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Going Once, Going Twice

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"Is it just me or do the bands get worse every week?" Willow asked as she watched the singer of the latest band of the week prance around and do his best at singing.

"It's not just you," Anya said, agreeing with the redhead. "They're horrible."

"I don't know. They aren't that bad," Xander said, moving his head in rhythm with the loud guitar being played. He was trying to forget what he had agreed to earlier that day and bad music was just the ticket.

"You're only saying that because they have worse rhythm than you," Buffy said laughing as he glared at her.

"Honey, you'd better not threaten her. She can kick your ass," Anya said sweetly as Xander opened his mouth to defend himself.

"Oh, all of you just hush," he said, sticking his tongue out at them and turning back to the stage.

"Ah, poor baby's upset," Willow said with a laugh.

"You know, one day he's going to smack all of you," Riley said with a laugh.

"He knows we're just teasing," Buffy said, smiling at her boyfriend.

"Honey, you know we're joking don't you?" Anya said, touching his shoulder.

"Leave me alone," Xander said, shooting them a scowl.

Anya frowned and hit the back of his head, "Quit pouting. We're trying to enjoy tonight."

"Would you stop hitting me?" he said, glancing at them all. "What is this? Pick on Xander day?"

"Xan, what's wrong?" Willow asked, the smile leaving her face when she saw that he was obviously more upset about their teasing than he should have been. He always made fun of his lack of musical beat, it being one of the running jokes in their gang.

Xander turned to face the table, feeling a bit guilty when he saw his friends looking at him. "It's really silly. I feel stupid even bringing it up."

"Aw, a moment I never imagined hearing. The moron admits he's stupid," Spike said, moving towards their table. He shot them a sneer, "Now if the slayer would only admit that she's a slutty bitch, I could die a happy man."

"If you promise to die, I'd be happy to say it," Buffy said with a sweet smile as she glared at him.

"He's already dead," Willow said softly as she sat up straighter in her chair. She felt her heart begin to beat a bit faster as she felt Spike behind her. Just the sound of his voice could make her breath catch. At the moment, he was much too close for her well being.

"Spike, so lovely to see you," Xander said, shooting the vampire a glare. "Not."

"Don't you have some victims to taunt or something?" Anya asked, usually not minding Spike hanging around but worried about her Xander.

"Ow, you wound me," Spike said, clutching his heart. "And here I thought you'd be happy to see me."

Buffy had to laugh, "You know, Blondie, you really need to just admit that you enjoy hanging out with us. This whole tough guy sneering act is getting to be a repetitive, especially since it's been going on for more than a year."

"Enjoy hanging out with you losers?" Spike snorted. "You're crazy," he said as he moved onto the stool between Willow and Anya. He lazily glanced at Willow, noticing the death grip she had on her glass, her knuckles white. He frowned, wondering what had the little witch so on edge.

"You know," Buffy said smiling, "I've heard that before."

"Why does that not surprise me?" Anya said. "Can we stop the verbal play for just a few minutes? Buffy, you're a crazy bitch but we love you anyway. Spike, you like us even if you don't want to. Deal with it. Now shut up. I want to know what's bothering my Xander."

Willow had to laugh at Anya's words, seeing the wide-eyed look on the blonde slayer's face. She figured Buffy would not be surprised by anything Anya did, yet the ex-demon still managed to catch the slayer off guard at times. "Xander, what were you trying to tell us before Spike interrupted?"

********************

Xander started to shift on his stool as all eyes looked at him. Suddenly, he felt rather foolish. He was overreacting to something very silly. "It's nothing. Really. Forget it."

"Doesn't seem like nothing to me," Riley said, wondering what had his friend acting so strange.

"And he pays how much for an education?" Spike muttered, cringing at Riley's statement.

Willow had to giggle, shooting the vampire a startled look. She hadn't expected him to be a supporter of proper grammar. "Too much, believe me."

Spike shot the redhead a smile and winked, "Boy's a freaking moron. He could pay millions and it wouldn't change that."

"Ahem," Buffy cleared her throat and glared at her red-haired best friend. "You are speaking about my boyfriend, you realize?"

"Sorry," Willow said, though she had not said anything offensive.

"I'm not," Spike said, smiling brightly at the slayer before looking at Xander. "So, chap, what's got your undies in a twist? Spill it already. I'm not a patient man and you have me sitting on the edge of me chair."

"Sarcasm so becomes you, Spike," Xander said with a short laugh.

"Honey, I'm agreeing with the patience factor," Anya warned.

"I saw my Mom today," Xander said with a sigh.

"How is she?" Willow asked, having not seen Mrs. Harris for several months.

"Busy, busy, busy," Xander said with a faint smile. "She's currently organizing a benefit for her company."

"A benefit?" Buffy asked, curious to what Xander's mother actually did. She had met the woman once, having never met his Father. She knew his dad was an accountant of all things, often spending a majority of his time in L.A. From what she had heard, there was no love lost between Xander and his father. His mother had been nice though slightly ditzy.

"For charity," Xander said with a forlorn sigh.

"Don't sound so chipper," Willow said with a puzzled look.

"She's drafted me," Xander whined.

"For what?" Anya asked.

"It's a bachelor auction," Xander said, making a face. "She needs some eligible younger bachelors since most of the men at her company are in their late thirties or older."

Spike had to laugh, "So she asked you? Does she really think anyone is going to pay for you?"

"Hey there," Xander said, his eyes narrowing, "I could fetch a pretty penny, thank you very much."

"Yeah," Spike snorted, "if your little girlfriend bid on you. Bet you wouldn't get any bids except from her."

"Wait a minute," Anya said, studying Xander. "Other women are going to pay for your company? And what exactly does it entail?"

"A date," Xander said, grimacing. "But I don't want some woman to win me. I was hoping you'd go and win me. I have some money saved. Shouldn't be too tough to be the winning bid."

"And deprive all those other biddies from getting a piece of you? The unfairness of it all," Spike said, doing his best not to collapse in laughter.

"Riley can do it," Buffy said suddenly, looking at her boyfriend. Riley gaped at her, his mouth open slightly. "I'll win you of course, but it is for charity. The more guys they've got, the better, right?"

"This is rich. I'll have to video it all," Spike said, giving up any pretense of seriousness as he laughed. "You two morons parading around for a bunch of wealthy twits to bid on. Funniest thing I've heard all year."

"Xander could raise more money than you could," Anya said with a sly smile as she caught Buffy's eyes and winked.

"And I know Riley would beat you to the ground, Deadboy," Buffy said with a similar smile.

"Yeah," Xander echoed his girlfriend's words, watching Spike's smile fade as his eyes narrowed. "Easy to laugh when you're not involved."

"Easy to be so brave when you've got your skirts ready to catch you when you fail," Spike said, glaring at them both.

Riley laughed, getting into seeing Spike squirm, "We could beat you even if they weren't going to bid."

"Oh really?" Spike said, laughing sharply. "I don't likely see that happening."

"Oh please," Anya said, rolling her eyes. "Women like cuddly men, not you rebel types. And as for Riley? Well, they like muscles and brawn too. Not wimpy types like you."

"Listen here you demon bitch," Spike started, his voice angry at her words until he saw the challenge in her eyes. He suddenly laughed, "You want to make a little wager?"

"What kind of wager?" Anya asked, angry at him for insulting her lover.

"Wager?" Xander said, starting to shake his head. "Hon, wait a sec. I don't like this wager thing."

"Shut up," Anya said, staring at Spike. Her competitive streak had been taunted and she was out for blood. "Wager?"

"I enter this silly little thing and I'll beat the pants off those two pansy assed humans. Of course, neither you nor Slutty can bid. Has to be honest and all that bullshit," he said, waiting and smiling. He knew they would not resist the challenge then he could win. He so loved the taste of victory.

"Honest?" Buffy snorted, "You?"

"Scared, slayer? Not so sure Neanderthal can beat me?" he taunted.

"With one hand tied behind his back," Buffy answered.

"Oh, so it's a kinky sort of auction, is it?" Spike said, watching her face flush.

Willow listened as Spike continued to taunt them until a wager had been discussed and agreed upon. He played them all perfectly, knowing exactly what would spur them into betting. She also had to wonder if Buffy and Anya were blind. Sure, she liked Riley and loved Xander, but there was no way in hell that Spike would lose an auction to them. With his cheekbones, those eyes, that voice, that tight ass. Nope, this would be a bet that neither Xander nor Riley could win. Suddenly, she had to smile. Or maybe not. With Anya and Buffy behind them, they might get that added push they needed to make a good showing. Then, Spike would lose and he'd have a bit of crow to eat. Either way, it would certainly be an interesting next couple of weeks.

"Fine. We can't bid on them. It has to be someone attending the auction. The highest winning bid wins," Buffy said, making sure it was agreed.

"And when Xander wins, we'll know who the most wanted man really is," Anya said.

Buffy glanced at the woman, eyes narrowing, "Yeah, it will be Riley when he wins."

Spike sat back, a large smile crossing his face as both women began to argue about whose boyfriend was better. The boyfriends in questions both began to squirm in their chairs, giving each other sickly looks. He nodded, seeing that his work for the day was done. Scooby gang at odds once again. Let them tell him that he enjoyed being around them. Like he was that pathetic. He scowled for a moment before he heard Anya call Buffy a stupid bitch. His eyes glanced at Willow for a moment, seeing the slight smile crossing her lips as her friends argued. Smiling, he took a sip of his whiskey and leaned back. Ah, it was a beautiful day.

********************

Willow left the noise of the Bronze, breathing in deeply as the cool night air washed over her. Her head cleared as she welcomed the silence. The remainder of her evening had been filled with the bickering of Buffy and Anya. Both girls seemed to be out to win the silly bet while forgetting that it was Spike they both wanted to beat. He had easily taken their little game of needling him and turned it into an all out war while simply sitting back and laughing. He knew her friends well, having spent months studying them all. Anya and Buffy would be out for blood, both wanting her respected boyfriend to win the highest auction bid. She still had to believe that Spike would take the highest bid. If the women weren't blind and stupid that was.

Willow started to walk back towards her parent's house. Since Buffy had decided to live at home that term, she had done the same. She really didn't mind, having never liked sharing a bathroom with a dozen other people. It was really nice having her own private space back. But it could get very lonely. Buffy had Riley and her family. Xander had Anya. She had no one. Sure, she spent a lot of time with them all but it wasn't the same. They had their own lives that did not include her. She couldn't fault them for that. She did sometimes wish that there was someone she could come home too though. Someone she could spend time with just watching television or simply in silence. It was an elusive dream though. Since Oz had left, she just hadn't been able to connect to anyone that well. Plus there was her silly crush on Spike.

How could she ever date a guy when she always compared them to Spike? None of them could ever surpass him. There was just something about him that got to her. She couldn't even explain it. It had caught her off guard when she had begun to realize that she had feelings for him. It had been nearly a year since the first feelings had begun. At first she had thought it was a reaction due to Oz's leaving and the fact that Spike had seemed to be the only one that had cared. After months had passed and the feelings had not only remained but had gotten stronger, she had to accept that she was falling in love with him. He had betrayed them to Adam, helping them in the end only to save his own ass, yet she still loved him. In the months since the initiative episode, he had begun spending more time with their group. She had to agree with Buffy that he seemed to reluctantly like being with them.

She wasn't sure though if it was necessarily them he liked or if he was just tired of being alone. Loneliness could do many things to a person, even make them enjoy spending time with their enemies. She hoped that it was more than that though. She honestly hoped that he really did like them, even if he wanted to deny it to himself. That meant he might be around a bit longer. She didn't want think of a future without him in their lives. He made things interesting. She had to laugh as she remembered the easy way he had set her friends up just that evening. Playing their egos against each other. Poor Riley and Xander were getting drafted into a bet that neither seemed to want to participate in. It would at least make Mrs. Harris' auction a lively event to say the least.

Willow walked through the quite streets, thankful that all the nasties seemed to be home and not out. Buffy had offered to walk her home but she'd turned the slayer down. She'd wanted some quite after all the good natured and not so good-natured arguing. Besides, Riley had been trying to get the slayer away from Anya for nearly an hour. Willow had suggested a late patrol to the blonde and Riley had jumped at the idea, taking the slayer away with a thankful look at Willow. Willow had left soon after, leaving Anya and Xander alone. Spike had taken off soon after the bet had been made, presumably to find Harmony for some shagging. Stupid blonde bitch, Willow thought with a scowl. Harmony had always had everything in high school, now she was dead and she still got the guy. Life just was not fair sometimes.

Willow finally made it home, thankful that she had had no reason to need the slayer. The walk had been relaxing, letting her clear her head just a bit. She could honestly say that she had no idea who would be the winner of this auction bet, but she would sit back and watch the proceedings with interest. She walked up the sidewalk to her house, feeling in her pocket for the key. She frowned when she didn't feel it. She moved her purse, looking inside to see if she may have dropped it in there by mistake. Feeling around, there was nothing except a notepad, some pens and her billfold. She closed her eyes and sighed, wondering how she could have possibly lost her key. She walked up the stairs of the porch, irritation on her face. Of all the stupid things she had ever done.

As she reached the porch, the door swung open, bathing her in a soft glow of light. Her eyes widened as she stumbled back, nearly falling off the porch in surprise. "What the....."

Spike leaned against the doorway, crossing his arms in front of his chest as a lazy smile crossed his handsome face, "Honey, you're home!"

********************

"Spike?"

"The one and only, beautiful," he said with a smirk at her open astonishment.

"What are you doing here? In my house?" she asked, glaring at him.

"Not happy to see me, Red?" he asked, his lower lip protruding in a pout.

"Spike," she said, her tone annoyed. She didn't want to deal with him at the moment. He looked too good, standing there in her doorway. His black t-shirt molded the contours of his chest, his jeans tight against his legs. She almost wished he'd turn around so she could have a lusty look at his ass. She felt her face flame at the direction her thoughts were going. Her annoyance replaced by embarrassment as if he could somehow read her thoughts.

"Red," he replied in an amused tone.

She frowned at him, wondering what he found so amusing. She pushed past him to enter her house, the scent of cigarettes and leather reaching her nose. She inhaled swiftly, welcoming the comforting smells before she entered her house. Spike refused to move, forcing her to brush against him. She scowled at him, measuring the amount of space she had and if she could make the tight squeeze without asking him to move. He simply looked at her, his lips curled in a lazy smile.

"You need something, Red?" he asked, his tone still amused. He watched her eyes narrow as her pretty lips scowled at him. He raised his eyebrow, wondering if he'd finally managed to get a reaction from her. He pushed and pushed but she usually just backed away from him or ignored him completely. The others he could figure out. He knew exactly what made most of the little gang tick. Willow, on the other hand, was still a bit of a mystery. He rather liked it, his inability to understand her. She kept him on his toes. His interest in her of course had nothing to do with her cute little nose and that pretty red hair and those sparkling green eyes that seemed to be able to see things no one else could see. Or the soft smile that would sometimes grace those pretty lips as if she was laughing at a joke that no one else knew. Nope, that had nothing to do with it at all. He wasn't attracted to her. Not in the slightest. She was too thin, too timid and quiet. Yet, there were times he could see a fire in her that sparked his interest. Usually it was fleeting though, put out when her friends approached. He moved against the door, taking up a bit more space. He waited, wondering what she would do. Probably stammer out some plea for him to please move in a polite but aloof tone. That same tone she usually used when speaking to him.

She looked up at his question, seeing the humor in those crystal blue eyes. He thought this was funny? Stupid bastard, she thought. Wasn't bad enough he played his little game with her friends. He now had to find her to get a reaction. "Nothing at all," she said sweetly as she moved past him, making sure her elbow caught him in the stomach.

"Ow," he exclaimed, looking at her with a bit more respect.

"Sorry," she said in a tone that was anything but.

"Sure you are, Red," he said, following her into the house and shutting the door.

"Why are you here?" she asked, putting her purse on the table as she removed her coat. "And how did you get in?"

He laughed, pulling a key ring from his pocket. "Here you go, Red. Shouldn't leave these laying around, you know."

Willow turned just in time to catch her keys. She frowned at them, "These were in my pocket."

"Were they?" he asked innocently.

"Spike," she said in warning. "Why did you take my keys?"

"Would I take anything from you, Red?" he asked in mock indigence. "I found them and was just returning them."

"Found them in my pocket!" she said, glaring at him. "Why did you steal my keys?"

"Steal is such a harsh word," he said, smiling at the sparks he saw in her eyes.

"Do you have a better word?" she asked, moving to sit down on her couch. She was tired and was in no mood to play whatever game he was trying to play. For a few minutes, her feelings for him left as she narrowed her eyes. "Please enlighten me, Spike."

"I merely borrowed them," he explained, sitting down in the armchair opposite her. "Didn't feel like going back to that dark, cold crypt. Thought I'd come by and see you, Red."

"Lucky me," she said, her annoyance leaving when she saw the flash of truth in his eyes. He was lonely. How could she muster anger at him when he was just being honest?

"Oh, geez. Don't do that," he said, making a face.

"Do what?"

"Look at me like I'm some defenseless puppy. I didn't come here for pity looks, Red," he cursed.

"Then why are you here? You keep avoiding that question," she pointed out.

"Bloody hell, you're a persistent little thing, aren't you?" he said in annoyance. Sighing loudly, he looked at her with a small smile, "I need your help, Willow."

********************

"Help? From me?" Willow frowned, not sure she had heard him correctly. What could she possibly help Spike with?

"Yeah, from you," he said, moving his feet onto her coffee table. He watched the skeptical look cross her pretty face and almost smiled. This was the most fun he'd had in weeks.

"What? How?" she faltered, caught off guard by his matter of fact tone. She gathered her thoughts, seeing the obvious amusement in his eyes and cursing him mentally. "What could I ever help you with, Spike? I mean, Buffy and Xander? I help them with patrol or homework. You definitely don't need help with patrol and you aren't in school. So what could I possibly do for you?"

"Aw, Red," he groaned softly, her words conjuring images that made his jeans tighten instantly and his plan flee his mind. He shifted in the chair, not wanting her to see the rather prominent bulge that now pushed against the denim of his jeans.

"Are you OK?" she asked in a slightly worried tone. He was fidgeting in his chair and not looking her in the eyes. That rather concerned her. The one thing she could always count on with Spike was that he loved to make eye contact. He'd never look away unless he was lying. She saw him shake his head as his hands gripped the side of the chair. Was he sick?

"Fine," he spat out, irritated that this little snippet of a human could cause such a violent reaction to his body with just some innocent phrase. He shuddered to imagine what he would turn into if she ever lowered herself enough to touch him. He closed his eyes, trying to think of anything other than crossing that small wooden surface and entering the little redhead in one deep stroke. He brought forth thoughts of Buffy and her little boy toy and of Xander and his twitty girl friend. Soon, his erection was completely gone and he had a scowl on his face. Nothing better for the overactive libido than thinking of the daft slayer and her little friends. He glanced up when he felt himself back under control, scowling more when he saw the concern in her green eyes. Damn if he didn't feel like a schoolboy again. He hated feeling human. "What are you looking at?"

Willow flinched at the harsh tone in his voice, mad at herself for actually caring that he had seemed upset. "Nothing," she muttered, her eyes falling to look at the top of her coffee table.

"Damn it," he cursed, running a hand through his short blonde hair, "don't do that!"

"Do what?" she asked, looking up with confusion.

"Act like I broke your favorite toy," he said, his lips thin.

"Spike, I'm getting a headache. Why don't you tell me what it is you want and then leave?" she said finally, no longer in a mood to argue with him.

"Well, you see, it's about this bet," he started, hoping his plan made sense to her when it was verbalized.

"Oh, the bet," she said, her voice slightly disappointed. In the back corners of her mind, she could admit that she had been hoping he'd proclaim his love for her and ask her to be his. No such luck, of course. He just wanted some details about that damn bet.

"Yeah, the bet," he said, making a face. At the time, he had egged Anya and Buffy on knowing that neither would back down from a challenge. He'd enjoyed watching them argue and both their boys squirm. It was only after he had left that he realized what he had done. Again, he'd let his big mouth get him into trouble. Of course, by the time he had reached Red's, he'd had the perfect plan. Not only would he win the bet, he'd get to spend a bit of time with his redhead. He scowled at that thought. His? She wasn't his anything. Was she?

"What does the bet have to do with me?" she asked as she saw him scowl and his eyes darken slightly. She gulped, knowing that he couldn't hurt her but still feeling that rush of danger that he always seemed to give off. "It was between you and the others. I don't have anything to do with it."

"But that's where you're wrong, luv," he said, coming from his thoughts with what he hoped was a sexy grin.

"Wrong?" she asked, feeling butterflies in her stomach at his smile.

"You see, pet," he began as he made himself more comfortable in the chair and waited for the inevitable fireworks, "you're going to win me."

********************

"Excuse me?" Willow said, staring at him in shock. "Win you?"

He nodded as a lazy smile crossed his handsome face, "Yeah, you're gonna win me."

"But...but.." Willow's power of speech eluded her as she stared at him as if he had two heads.

"And here I thought you were the smart one," he said with a loud sigh.

Her eyes narrowed at his amused tone and she said, "I am the smart one! You're crazy, that's all."

"Crazy?" he raised a brow, waiting for her to explain before threatening her.

"I'd have to bid to win you," she said with a smug smile. "And I'm not bidding so I can't win you."

He rolled his eyes, "That is your brilliant defense? I expected better."

"Hell, I don't think I'd take you if they gave you to me, much less bid on you," she said crossly.

"Honey, you'd beg them for me," he said with an arrogant smile, "but that's not the issue. You are going to win me, pet."

"Why?" she asked. "Besides, your bet said we couldn't bid on you."

"No," he said, "we agreed that Slutty and Whorey couldn't bid on their men. You weren't mentioned. Besides, I'm not your man so it wouldn't matter."

"Buffy and Anya might disagree," Willow said with a scowl as he reminded her that he wasn't hers.

"I don't give a bloody fuck if they do or don't," he said. "You were not part of the agreement pet."

"Why?" she asked. "Do you not think you can win?"

"Oh, I can win, baby," he said with a confident smile, "there's no doubt about that."

"Then why?" she asked. "Why do you want me to win you?"

"I don't want you to win me," he said crossly, "It's just gotta be that way. I thought about it, you see. Works better if you win me."

"Why?" she asked in irritation. Not only would it be mortifying to actually bid on the object of her obsession, it would be impossible to live it down among her friends. "Besides, I don't have any money. They'd know I wouldn't spend what little I have on you."

"I'll give you the money," he said patiently, watching her face as she argued with him. "And why? Think about it, sweetheart."

"You'll give me the money? So you'd be buying yourself? Talk about ego trip," she said with a sigh.

"Red, don't push me," he warned, somehow liking the idea of her pushing him especially onto a large bed.

"I just don't get this," she said. "All I wanted to do was come home and take a long bath, lay around and do some reading. Instead I have to deal with cryptic messages from an arrogant, smug vampire. Life isn't fair."

"I am a vampire, Red," Spike said, choosing to ignore the bath reference until he was safe and sound back at home where he could take full advantage of that image. He groaned as she still looked at him as if he was crazy. "You want some poor little defenseless lady to win me and take me home? A ruthless evil vampire?"

"Good grief," she said, finally getting his point. "You can't! They'd figure out something was weird about you and ask questions."

"Hello, ruthless evil vampire?" he said, annoyed that she passed right over that remark.

She snorted, "Yeah, uh huh. You could lick them to death I guess. Wait, that might work out depending on how much they paid for you."

"Red," he growled.

She had to laugh, "I can see it now, Spike. Heck, they'd send a wonderful letter to the organizers and everything."

"I guess you'd be writing it then, Red," he said with narrowed eyes. "Since you'll be the one winning me."

"Isn't there anyone else you could ask?" she whined, not disliking the idea of doing Spike a favor but not wanting the embarrassment of bidding on him in front of her friends.

"Red," he said again.

"Spike, thanks for thinking of me but I can't do this," she said.

"So you'd be responsible for some poor biddie's death," he clucked his tongue.

"You couldn't kill her, Spike," she said in irritation. "Quit trying to make me feel guilty."

"I couldn't kill her, but I could find someone to do it for me," he said with a smile. "If I had some stranger, some dippy twit buy me, well, I would feel forced into hurting her."

"Spike!" she groaned. "Fine. Whatever. I'll bid on you and I'll win you. Does that make you happy?"

He smiled, "Not completely, but I'm getting there." He winked, "You mentioned something about a bath?"

"Get out of here!" she said, having to laugh. Any other day, she'd dream of hearing him say those words. Now, she knew he was merely flirting to annoy her.

"I thought I might stay here for awhile," he said, his eyes glancing at the telly.

"You want to watch my TV don't you?" she said, shaking her head.

He grinned, "Well, since you asked so nicely...."

"Fine. You can watch TV for two hours. But that's it! And then you have to go home," she said sternly.

"But Ma," he said with an easy smile as he reached for the remote.

"No crumbs on the sofa either," she said with a smile. "I'm gonna take a bath now and try to relax."

He nodded, acting as if her statement did nothing to her body, "Sure, don't drown."

"Nice to know you care," she said as she started to walk up the stairs.

His blue eyes followed her path and he whispered, "Oh, I care, baby...." before turning his attention back to the television.

********************

Willow smiled softly as she stood in the doorway of the living room. The television was playing, the only light coming from the screen of the TV and the small lamp beside the sofa. Willow let her eyes run along Spike's sleeping form, noticing that he had kicked his boots off. His coat lay across the armchair. She took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of leather and tobacco. In less than three hours, his scent had taken over the room. She loved his smell. Even now, annoyed with his presumption that she would eagerly bid on and win him, she felt her stomach tighten just from that familiar scent.

She moved her eyes along his body again, noticing the strip of pale flesh that was bared from his rising T-shirt. His jeans rode low on his lips, one leg hanging off the couch onto the floor and the other hanging over the arm of the sofa. She moved her eyes to his face, still finding it odd that his chest wasn't moving. He appeared dead. She had to remind herself that he really was dead. She simply stood in the doorway, enjoying the ability to study him without being noticed. Usually, she was always nervous that he would see her looking at him and figure out she had feelings. With him sleeping, she felt relaxed and could just look at him as long as she wanted to.

She had spent nearly an hour in the bathtub, only getting out when the water became chilled and her skin started to wrinkle. It had been nice, laying there in the warm water. She had put some bubble bath in, letting the bubbles dance along her skin. It was the most relaxed she had felt for days. Even now, she still felt the same ease. Of course, a great portion of that could be because Spike was asleep. Had she ventured into the living room to find him awake and raring to argue, she'd probably have been more stressed than before the bath. While bathing, she had seriously considered his idea and realized that it was the only choice. He was right in thinking that someone else winning him would be a problem. There would be questions as to why the date could only happen after dusk, why he wasn't eating, why he was so cold to touch. Her eyes narrowed as she thought of some woman touching him enough to realize how cold he actually was. A wave of possessiveness that startled her washed over her. Her decision not to fight him on this winning him thing had nothing to do with the fact that she didn't want some other woman to touch him. Nope, not at all. She just wanted to make things easier for him. After all, he had been coerced into this auction thing in the first place. He hadn't want to participate. Anya and Buffy had egged him on. They deserved to lose.

She slowly moved from her position by the door, crossing the room and shutting the curtains. She secured them with a chair, not wanting them to blow open by the air conditioning. Since it appeared that Spike was going to sleep on her couch, she didn't want to wake up to nothing but a pile of ash. She moved back towards the table, taking the discarded bag of chips and the glass into the kitchen. She knew from seeing the chips that he had probably deliberately gotten crumbs in the sofa because she'd ask him not too. Spike could be so much like a child at times that it amused her. She finished cleaning up the kitchen, noticing that the microwave was flashing that it was after four. She yawned, feeling tired now that she knew how late it was. Shaking her head, she turned off the kitchen light and wandered back into the living room.

She watched as Spike moved on the couch, one arm flinging itself over his head as the other rested flat against his stomach. She paused, wondering for a moment if he was really awake, pretending to sleep for some reason that would only make sense to him. When he didn't move again after several minutes, she walked back into the room. She turned the television off, the constant chattering starting to get annoying. She looked back at Spike, finding her eyes drawn to him as if by a magnet. She smiled softly, moving into the hall and opening the closet. She found a blanket and went back to the living room. She moved towards to sofa, unfolding the blanket and laying it along Spike's frame. She bent down, making sure that he was covered. She knew it was silly since he didn't feel the cold, but she just felt like he might need a blanket. She smoothed it over his chest, trying not to spend too much time actually touching him. If she touched, she might not stop. That thought was better left for her fantasies.

She tucked the corners of the blanket around his body, making sure that he was well covered. It got pretty cold in the living room. She was about to stand up when she felt him shift. His hand caught the back of her head and she gasped as he pulled her down to him. His lips claimed hers in a deep kiss, his tongue sweeping into her mouth as he branded her. Before she knew it, it was over. His hand had fallen and he was practically purring in his sleep. She lifted her head, her fingers touching her lips. She waited for a smug smile or a laughing wink but nothing came. He was really asleep. She could hear the ragged breathing, knowing that it was her own. She shakily got to her feet, her lips still burning from the intensity of their kiss. She continued to watch his face for some hint of alertness. He moved in his sleep, mumbling something she couldn't understand. She stilled when she made out the word love. He must be dreaming, she decided. She turned off the lamp and stumbled from the living room, her fingers still touching her bruised lips.

Spike shifted on the sofa, caught up in the dream he was having. He moved against Willow, sending himself deeper into her warmth. Her scent surrounded him, the feel of her hair against his hand real. He could taste her on his lips as he kissed her, claiming her mouth and leaving no doubt that she was his. He could feel her tighten around him, feel her fingers digging into his back as she screamed out in orgasm. He could taste her blood as he bit into her, marking her with his bite. He growled his release as he said her name. He shifted again, coming awake suddenly as he fell from the sofa. He glanced around, seeing the blanket wrapped around his legs. He could feel the front of his jeans wet against his cock. He cursed, realizing that this was the first time he'd had a wet dream since he had been human. Bloody hell, he was going insane. That little snippet of a girl was going to drive him nuts. He stood, his hand clenching the blanket. He brought it up and inhaled, her scent covering the fabric. He could already feel himself hardening just from smelling her. He had to smile as he saw the curtains closed with the chair holding it in place. He also realized that she must have covered him with the blanket. That explained why he had been able to smell her so clearly. She had been there. He moved towards the stairs, blue eyes looking up towards her room. Smiling slightly, he went back to the couch and laid down. He pulled the blanket over him, the smile still on his face. Maybe if he was lucky he could pick up that dream where it had left off.

********************

"Why am I here again?"

Spike looked at the redhead and smiled, "Because, I needed you."

"I'm hearing that an awful lot lately," she muttered, her eyes narrowing as she looked at the store in front of them. "Why don't you try needing someone else?"

"Ah, Red, where would the fun be in that?" he asked with a wink as he got out of the car.

"Where would the fun be, he asks," she said, not moving from the passenger seat. She watched him stop in front of the car, his hands moving to his hips as his right foot began to tap impatiently. It had been nearly two days since he had turned up at her front door. Well, turned up inside her house was closer to the truth. And he hadn't left her alone since.

That night he had demanded that she was going to win him in the auction, he had fallen asleep on her couch. Then, he had kissed her breathless and didn't seem to remember it at all. All a part of some fantasy that didn't include her, she decided crossly. After she had gotten in from her day with Buffy the day before, he had taken up residence on her couch. When she had tried to get him to leave, he'd come up with some need for her help in dealing with questions that might be asked during the auction. He had needed her human expertise, according to him. He had also somehow managed to fall asleep on her sofa again, looking so boyish in sleep that she hadn't wanted to wake him to leave. She had had classes that day and assumed he'd be gone when she returned. Ha, that's what she got for thinking she could predict anything that Spike was going to do. He'd informed her in a rather matter of fact tone that he needed her that night. She's been a bit annoyed that he thought he could tell her what to do and had started to argue with him. In the end, he'd gotten her to admit that she had nothing to do and had promised to help him with the auction. She had realized over the past couple of days that Spike was not only an expert manipulator, but that he was also very very intelligent. Stupid bleached hair moron, she thought in disgust. To think she had liked him.

"Are you coming, Red?" he asked, his tone slightly annoyed as Willow sat in the car, her statement reflective and thoughtful. He wondered idly if she had any idea how clearly he could read her face.

"Why am I here again?" she asked as she got out of the car.

"Because," he spoke to her as if she were six, "you promised to help me prepare for the auction."

"You know, I don't remember making that promise," she said with a frown.

"You did," he replied with an easy smile, "trust me."

"Ha, that's a laugh," she rolled her eyes.

"My, my, Red. Quite the feisty little girl today, aren't you?" he said, loving this side of her. The spitfire that allowed him to see her annoyance and displeasure with the entire situation. He watched her blush as she drew her bottom lip into her mouth, her eyes widening as she realized she had been talking back to him. Ah, yes. His timid little spitfire.

"Wait, how is this place going to help you with the auction?" she asked as she followed him into the store.

"I can't very well wear this, can I?" he asked her, gesturing to his jeans and T-shirt.

"Oh no, I draw the line here Mister," she stuttered, images suddenly feeling her head of a naked Spike parading down the auction runway. She felt her heart begin to race as she gulped, suddenly feeling rather warm despite the cool air-conditioned store. "I will not help you buy clothes."

"Why not?" he challenged, intrigued by the color flooding her face and the soft scent of arousal that was reaching him. He slowly counted to ten, trying to resist his demon's need to claim her there and then. Damn it, what was he thinking? It was getting to be more and more difficult to be around her without tossing her on the ground and shagging her silly, yet he had found silly excuses to be with her every night since the Bronze. And they were pathetic excuses. Even his wanker of a sire would be mortified to see how low he had sunk just to be in her company.

"Well, because," she faltered, "um, well, surely you can buy your own clothes, Spike."

"I haven't bought clothes in years," he said honestly. "Dru tended to get me things. Never cared that much what I wore. Haven't paid for anything in longer than I can even remember."

"You stole them?" she asked, reminded suddenly how different they were.

"Nah," he shook his head. Shrugging, he continued, "Dru'd just see something she liked and kill whoever was wearing it."

"Oh Goddess," she said, making a face as she realized that she had touched clothes stolen from a dead person. "That's just gross."

"Well, then, see? I need you to help me get a new wardrobe. I can toss out all these rags," he said, waiting for the inevitable nod.

"Definitely," she said, shivering. "We'll burn them. That really is just nasty. How could you wear clothes that were taken from a dead person?"

"They weren't dead when she took them off them, pet," he said with a smile and a wink. "Come on, luv. Let's do some shopping."

"You only need one outfit, right? I mean, I hardly ever see you wearing anything except that one set of clothes," she muttered as she moved amongst the aisles, her green eyes looking at the men's clothes and not seeing anything that really seemed to suit Spike.

"I have more than one," he said in protest, glaring at her as she rolled her eyes. "Well, I do...." he followed behind her, wondering what she would choose for him. He stopped at one rack, putting his arms on the top and resting his chin on them as he watched her closely. Damn, she was beautiful. He suddenly realized that he had suggested shopping. Was actually going to buy new clothes all in an attempt to be with her for a little bit longer. And he thought there was nothing more pathetic that he could have done. He closed his eyes, groaning at how bloody stupid he must seem. Suddenly, he heard her squeal and his eyes flew open. He watched her face light up as she smiled at him and he felt his stomach tighten. Pathetic, maybe, but she was going to be his.

"Try this on," she said, handing him the light blue shirt. She watched him frown and waited.

"It's light blue," he said, spitting out the words in disgust. Not even for her.

"Fine, then try this one," she handed him the one she liked the best, a long sleeved silk shirt that was a midnight blue. With his coloring and hair, she knew it would look great.

He took that one, thankful that it at least wasn't pink. "It's silk."

"So?" she said. "Silk is good. You need something for the auction, right? Well, women love silk. Looking at you, they'll long to run their hands over it, to see if it feels as soft as it looks."

"I don't care if they want to run their hands over anything," he said crossly, watching her look at the shirt, a faraway look in her eyes as the scent of her arousal overwhelmed him. Well, well, well, looks like he had found something that turned his little witch on. "You're the one that's gonna win me."

"You want to beat Xander and Riley don't you?" she challenged. "You'll get higher bids if you wear silk and leather."

"No leather," he said, his eyes narrowing. "Leather was Soulboy's little fetish, not mine. I'll do the silk cause it seems to make you wet, but no leather."

"What?" her eyes widened as she felt her mouth dry, "Silk does nothing to me."

"I can smell it, luv," he said with a wink. "Makes you want to run your hands all over it, eh?"

"You can smell...." her face flamed as she turned from him, bumping into a rack of clothes. "I don't care what you buy. I'm waiting in the car."

Spike felt his demon rise as she turned away from him, tried to leave him. He glanced around the store, noticing the there were very few people in it this late but that a couple of them had been watching him and Willow. His eyes narrowed as he moved, his arm snaking around her waist and pulling her against him. He whispered against her ear as she struggled against him, "Luv, no one leaves me."

With those words, he grabbed some random clothes from a nearby rack and moved towards the back of the store and the dressing rooms. Willow continued to squirm against him but was smart enough to remain silent. He opened one of the dressing rooms, pushing her inside and tossing the clothes on the floor at her feet. He followed her inside, his eyes sparking yellow as she moved away from him. "What did you think you were doing, little girl?"

"I was going to the car," she said, her large eyes watching his face. He was really angry with her. She frowned, confused as to what she had done.

"You were challenging me," he amended, his eyes narrowing on her face. "There were people watching us, pet. They seemed to be amused, thinking this a bit of a lover's tiff."

"Who cares what they think?" she asked, watching as he began to lazily unfasten the buttons of his shirt. "What are you doing?"

"Trying on clothes," he said in a patient tone, almost smiling at the squeak in her voice. "And I care what they think. I will not have some weak assed humans think that I can't handle my woman. Since I can't kill them, I have to show them I can control you."

"You can't try on clothes," she said, her eyes watching every movement of his fingers as she continued to protest his act. "And I'm not your woman."

"You know that, but they don't know that," he said, his blue eyes looking at her face. He smiled slowly, seeing her attention focused on his chest. Who was she fooling? There was no doubt in his or his demon's mind that she was his woman. True, he hadn't claimed her yet, but it was only a matter of time.

"So this is some sort of male thing?" she asked, licking her lips as the smooth pale chest was bared to her view and the shirt fell to the floor.

"Yeah, you could say that," he responded, moving slowly to pick up one of the shirts he had grabbed. He took his time dressing, taking delight in posing and teasing her. Her face was flushed and her heart was beating rapidly and she couldn't look away from him. Oh, but she didn't want him. Ha.

"That figures," she muttered, sighing as he buttoned the shirt. She squeaked again when she saw him reach for a pair of soft blue denim jeans.

"You might want to turn around, luv," he said with a smile. "I don't wear knickers and would hate to offend you."

"Oh my God," she turned only to find herself looking in the mirror. She couldn't believe what she saw. Her face was flushed, her eyes wide and glazed with what could only be described as desire, her breathing was erratic and her hair was in disarray. She heard a zipper and closed her eyes, imagining what she was missing. It was then she heard the chuckle. The smug self-satisfied chuckle that penetrated the lust induced cloud that was around her mind. Spike thought this was amusing. He had to see how she was affected by him. Even he couldn't be that blind. And he found it funny. She opened her eyes, a spark of anger flashing in their green depths as she slowly smiled. He wanted to give those guys out front a show? She'd give them a show they never forgot.

Willow gathered every ounce of courage that she had ever possessed, knowing that the next five to ten minutes would be the biggest bluff of her life. If she succeeded though, it would show Spike that he couldn't count on her for his amusement. She reached down and picked up the midnight blue silk shirt she had originally given him. Counting to ten and very slowly, she began to unbutton her shirt. Two could play at that game.

Spike had just finished fastening the blue jeans, rather enjoying their fit, when he saw the white shirt fall to the ground. His eyes flew up as his cock suddenly surged against the jeans. He watched with narrowed, hungry eyes as she pulled the silk shirt around her, her fingers fastening the buttons as her eyes stared in the mirror. He couldn't look away, the brief glimpse of her burned into his mind. Pert but full breasts straining against white cotton, a flat but firm stomach that had a scattering of pale freckles. He watched as she finished fastening the shirt, leaving the top buttons open. It engulfed her, falling past her knees. With her flushed face and mussed hair, she looked every inch a girl that had just been royally shagged and was now wearing her lover's discarded shirt. The silk caressed the curves of her breasts, making him long to run his hands over it. Remembering her earlier words, he found himself agreeing with her description of silk. He found himself frozen in place as she unfastened her jeans, pushing them off until she remained in just the shirt. The demon was fighting to claim its mate, to ride her until she collapsed, but he struggled to remain in control to see what she was planning.

Willow folded her jeans and shirt, standing in front of the mirror wearing only the large men's silk shirt. She closed her eyes briefly at the feel of it against her heated skin, the coolness of the material making her nipples hard, or maybe it was the idea that Spike was just behind her and could be watching her entire show in the mirror. She had no idea if he was or not, that element adding slightly to the enjoyment of this entire episode. Smiling slightly, she suddenly hit her hands on the mirror as hard as she could and cried out in what she hoped sounded like pleasure. "Yessssss," she hissed, loud enough for anyone near to hear. Straightening, she ran a hand over her hair and wiped the back of her against her mouth, smearing her lipstick. She took her clothes and turned, her eyes on the floor as she pushed past Spike, not wanting to see his face for fear that she would see disgust or desire, not sure which she would find.

She entered the store, straightening herself as she walked past several knowing smiles. She glanced at the saleslady and smiled sweetly, "He'll be paying for this one," she said, running her fingers over the silk as she continued outside and walked towards the car, only letting her breath out when she sat in her seat, waiting for Spike.

Spike grabbed the pile of clothes, not caring what exactly he was buying. He tossed them all on the counter, his cock hard against his jeans as he handed over his credit card. He turned, grabbing a couple extra silk shirts from the rack and putting them on the pile. He shrugged and smiled sheepishly at one of the customers and said, "What can I say? My baby likes her silk."

"Sounded like it," the man said, leering slightly before going back to his shopping.

Spike's eyes narrowed as he waited for the purchases to be rung up. Willow was waiting for him in the car. His little spitfire had just taken the game from him and moved it up one step. He had to smile as he wondered if she realized that he only played to win. He began to laugh as he reminded himself to never underestimate her again. He got his bags and went outside, getting into the car and glancing at her. "We'll get some ice cream," he said and then started the car. He saw the confusion and smiled, not mentioning one word about what had been happening between them in the dressing room. She may have moved the game up a notch, but he had won that round. She still had no idea what he game he was really playing.

********************

Willow sat at the table, a scowl on her face. She saw Buffy about to speak and narrowed her eyes, daring the blonde to dare intrude on her bad mood. Buffy just shut her mouth and looked at the redhead with a puzzled statement. Satisfied, Willow reached for her soda, her angry thoughts directing themselves at the bleached hair nemesis that had ruined her day.

"Why is Willow killing her ice?" Anya asked as she took a seat at the table, her eyes watching Willow.

"Shhh," Buffy said, "She's in a mood."

"Uh oh," Anya rolled her eyes as she ordered her drink and looked at the slayer, "a mood huh? Is it already that time of the month?"

"Actually, nope," Buffy shook her head. "She and I are on the same cycle and it ended a little over a week ago. She's just pissy."

Willow had paused in her inner stewing to glare at them both, her straw moving more rapidly in the glass as she listened to them continue to discuss her. She cleared her throat, "I am sitting here, you know."

"I know," Buffy said with a large smile," but you want us to leave you alone. That was what the glare said when I tried to greet you wasn't it?"

"Oh, just shut up," Willow muttered, hating that Buffy knew her so well.

"See? Pissy," Buffy shook her head. "She's been that way all day. Damn near bit my head off when I asked how she was this morning."

"Did not," Willow said, her words slightly weak because she knew Buffy was telling the truth. She had been on edge ever since the night before when Spike had taken her shopping. Change that. When he had kidnapped her and forced her to humiliate herself in the men's store. She frowned, knowing that he hadn't actually forced her into that little episode with the silk shirt, but in a way he had so she could blame him. It certainly wasn't something she made a habit of doing that was for sure. What really bothered her the most was that he hadn't said anything. Just gotten into the car and taken her for ice cream like her faking an orgasm in a clothing store was normal. Damn stupid idiot. She had expected some rude comment or at least sarcasm, but nothing? That had been worse than any laughter. He had just ignored it.

"Hello?" Anya said, looking from Willow to Buffy. "I wonder if it's nice on what planet she's on."

"It must be," Buffy said, laughing. "She seems to enjoy being there."

"Still here listening," Willow said curtly.

"So, what has you so upset?" Anya asked, getting straight to the point after the waitress took their order.

"I'm not upset," Willow clarified.

Buffy snorted, "Oh, yeah. Distracted maybe?"

"I just woke up grumpy. Is that a crime?" Willow asked, failing to mention that she hadn't actually been asleep. No, instead she had laid on her bed thinking about Spike and how he had looked without his shirt and how he must have looked without his jeans. Then she'd felt her body grow hot and her stomach tensed and sleep had been the farthest thing from her mind. Shagging the vampire that had again fallen asleep on her couch had pretty much been the consuming thought in her mind. Of course, she hadn't dared go down stairs. She had already given in to the temptation of being daring at Martin's, so she'd stayed in bed. Not that she ever would have done anything anyway. Her lips still tingled from that brief kiss days before.

"Grumpy?" Anya questioned with a snicker. "Will, I've never seen you so..."

"Yes?" Willow asked, arching her brow and narrowing her eyes on the ex-demon.

"Full of life?" Anya said with a smile. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you were frustrated....."

"Oh, really?" Buffy leaned forward, a smile crossing her face. "Is that it, Wills? Are you horny?"

"Buffy!" Willow felt her face flame as both girls looked at her. "Anya, can't you get your mind off sex for even an hour?"

"Hmm...." Anya paused as if in serious thought, "Nope. I doubt it. It's too much fun. Besides," she tossed a piece of her napkin at Willow, "I talk about things other than sex."

"I know," Willow said with a smile. "I didn't mean that...."

"So, is she right?" Anya asked, wriggling her eyebrows. "Is Willow in need of some lovin'?"

"No, she is NOT right," Willow said, not noticing the speculative gleam that had entered Buffy's eyes.

"We missed you last night at the Bronze. Thought you were meeting us," Buffy said, watching Buffy.

"Something came up," Willow said with a grimace though her eyes had taken on a sparkle.

"Really?" Anya said in a measuring tone. She nodded then looked at Buffy, deciding that Willow had had enough for the day. "So, where's Soldier Boy?"

"He's at the track," Buffy said with a large smile. "Running six miles. He has to be in shape for the auction after all."

"You're making him run?" Willow asked, having to laugh.

"What about Xander?" Buffy asked, ignoring Willow.

"I made him go to the gym," Anya said with a smile. "He'd gotten a bit flabby and I decided he needed to shape up."

"You managed to get Xander to the gym?" Willow asked, shocked. "What did you threaten him with?"

"What do you think?" Anya asked with a smirk. "Guys will do anything for sex."

"I can't believe you two are taking this auction thing so seriously," Willow muttered, realizing that she could actually blame both Anya and Buffy for her fiasco with Spike too since it had been their challenge that had gotten him involved in the first place.

"Xander is going to win that damn bet," Anya said, nodding forcefully.

Buffy snorted, "Yeah, second to Riley."

"God, can we please discuss something other than that damn auction?" Willow asked.

Buffy frowned, wondering what Willow had against the auction then deciding that the redhead was in no mood to explain, she just nodded, "Sure. No need to rub Anya's nose in the fact that she's going to lose."

"You little slut," Anya said, having to laugh. She just shook her head, "Did you guys see the Tonight Show last night? All I can say is Yum-my."

"Oh God yes," Buffy nodded. "Freddie Prinze Junior is just delish, even if Riley has a better body."

Willow rolled her eyes as the girls began to compare the actor with their own boyfriends. She was just thankful that they had left her alone and quit talking about the auction. She had to hear enough about it every night from Spike.

********************

"Up and at 'em Lazy Bones."

Spike growled, moving his head against the couch cushion. "Go away."

Willow smiled at his tone, putting her package on the table and standing over him, "Wakey wakey sleepy head."

"Sod off," Spike said, trying to ignore the too perky voice and sleep.

"That's not very nice," Willow said in amusement. She let her eyes run over his body, noticing the way his blue jeans fit tightly against his ass. Soft material molding the curves. She reluctantly moved her eyes up his back, seeing the pale flesh that showed from where his T-shirt had bunched up. She wished that he'd just stop wearing a shirt at all. It was such a waste to cover such a beautiful site. She clucked her tongue, a smile on her face as she continued, "Spikey...you need to get up. It's after five."

"I'm sleeping. This is just a nightmare," he muttered, keeping his eyes closed as he tried to go back to sleep.

Willow moved from the couch and went into the kitchen. She set about heating up his blood, knowing that the scent would soon have him sitting up. She glanced back into the living room, seeing that he was still laying there. Frowning, she studied him before smiling. She filled a glass with water and went back into the living room. "Spikey...one last chance. You need to wake up."

"Fuck off," he said, snarling as he kept his arm over his face.

"You were warned," she said, emptying the glass over his head.

"Bloody hell!" he cursed as he sat up. His hair was dripping as he glared at her, his eyes yellow as they swept over her smirking face and impish statement. "You little bitch."

"I asked nicely," she taunted as she went to the kitchen. She got his heated blood and poured it into the mug. Walking back into the room, she handed it to him with a smile. "Here. Drink. Then maybe you'll be in a better mood."

"You silly little bint," he cursed, taking the mug and drinking it down while glaring at her. "What is so damn important?"

"The auction," she said in an overly bright voice. "I know what you need to work on next."

"You woke me up for that silly auction?" he grumbled, glancing at the clock. He couldn't believe it was after five. He had been up most of the afternoon, watching talk shows and soap operas. He had finally laid back down at three, hoping to catch a nap before she came back. He hadn't been able to get any sleep when she had been in the house, able to hear every noise she made. At times, he had even imagined he could hear her breathing. He was getting more and more pathetic and what was worse was that he didn't give a damn. He had been at her place for four days so far. He was angling for her to finally give in and just ask him to move in. He'd take the spare room until he could share her bed. He didn't figure it would be much longer until she would realize she belonged to him anyway.

"Silly auction?" she repeated, staring at him with surprise. "That silly auction is the reason you've been nagging me for days! I thought you wanted to win."

"I do," he said, groaning. He'd almost blown it. "Sorry, some evil little girl poured water on me and woke me from a sound sleep so I'm a little slow at the moment."

"I'm not evil nor am I a little girl," she corrected in a haughty tone. "Now, are you ready?"

"For what?" he asked, almost smiling at the look of happiness in her green eyes.

"I was lunching with Anya and Buffy today and they gave me the idea," she explained turning before he could see the evil smile that she knew had to be gracing her face. "You need to work out, tone up your muscles. Get in better shape. I mean, all that blood is starting to make you flabby."

"What?" he roared, getting to his feet and glaring at her. "Me? Flabby?"

"Not yet but you will be if you don't work out," she said, trying to sound concerned instead of amused. "Anyway, I bought you this."

He looked at her hands and his statement hardened. "No way. No fucking way!"

"What?" she smiled innocently. "I just figured you wouldn't want to go to the gym and work out. You know, all those mirrors and things."

"I will not do it," he said, sitting down and pouting as he looked at the blank television.

"But, you want to win," she reminded. "I mean, you've been so good at trying to answer questions like a human and the new clothes. Riley and Xander are both working out. You wouldn't want to lose to them, would you?"

"I can go chase some demons. Beat a few things to death. That's enough work out for me," he said, his lower lip thrusting out.

Willow licked her lips as her eyes were drawn to his lips. She tore her eyes away as she unwrapped the video. "Come on and get ready to sweat, Deadboy. Do vampires sweat? I mean, Angel cried once but is sweating the same thing? And do you sweat blood? Eewww...maybe this is a bad idea...."

"I don't sweat, luv," he said with a smirk. "And Wimpyass may cry, but I sure as fuck don't."

"I think it's sweet that he can cry," she said with a dreamy look as she noticed him glowering. "Are you ready to start?"

"Put that damn tape in," he said, jealous of Angel for a brief moment before he remembered that the wanker was in LA and he was here with Willow. Smiling at that, he pulled his wet T-shirt over his head and kicked his boots off. Standing in just the blue jeans he had bought the night before, he watched her push the tape into the VCR. He cringed as a too hyper curly haired middle age man was soon seen bouncing around to some fast rock n roll song. He had to smile as Willow turned and froze, her eyes widening when she saw him half clothed. He nodded at the telly, "Why this one?"

"Oh, I love oldies. Besides, Richard Simmons is the best," she said, licking her lips and trying to look away from him but not succeeding.

"You're wearing that?" he asked, moving the table out of the way so that there was more space in front of the television. He glared at the peppy sounding twit that was instructing people to get with it and bounce. He'd show him bouncing, Spike decided then changed his mind when he realized that little pansy ass would probably appreciate a bounce. He shuddered, looking back at Willow. "I am not sweating alone, pet, so get that cute ass over here and start 'bouncing'."

"But...but...I'm not in the auction," she said. "This is for you."

"I don't like doing it alone, luv," he said, his voice dropping into a sensual whisper. "C'mon. You know you want to...Just say yes..."

"Yes," she whispered, each word he spoke like a gentle caress against her skin. She felt her mouth dry as her heart began to race.

"You'll never tell me no," he whispered, his eyes still holding hers. He broke the spell when he glanced at the telly again, counting to ten as he willed his erection down. He couldn't very well jump around with his cock straining against his jeans. "He wants us to bounce."

Willow jumped at his words, looking at the TV and laughing nervously. She kicked off her tennis shoes and took off her sweater, leaving her in her T-shirt and jeans. She walked closer to him, her eyes on the jumping man on the screen. "I guess we should bounce then."

"You know of course that I owe you for this one," he said in a warning tone as he reluctantly began to bounce in imitation of the twit on screen.

"Nope. We're even," she said, keeping her eyes off of Spike and following Richard Simmons instructions on what to do when Great Balls of Fire came over the speakers. "I owed you for that little macho display last night."

"I wasn't the one screaming out yes in a very orgasmic tone and parading around half naked in front of a bunch of strangers. All those dirty men looking at you with their thoughts clearly displayed on those smirking faces," he said, his anger obvious.

"This is to get you ready for the auction," she said, trying to sound sincere.

He snorted, moving his body in a jumping motion without any of the enthusiasm Richard Simmons was begging for. "Yeah, right. This is pure torture, pet. Definite revenge."

"A lot of people like him," she said. "They say he works."

"I'm not flabby," Spike hissed, glancing down at his washboard stomach. He didn't see a single ounce of fat anywhere. Damn girl needed her eyes examined.

"Let's just finish this tape," she said, deciding that ignoring him would be the best bet. She glanced at him, faltering as she found herself watching him. She quickly looked back at the television, hearing his knowing chuckle as her face began to flame. "Just shut up and bounce!"

"Oh, yeah, I owe you, Red," he promised in a silky voice as he watched her breasts sway to the music. Groaning as he hardened once again, he watched the gentle swell of her ass bounce. This was going to be one hell of a long night, he decided.

********************

Spike scowled at the front door as he heard the incessant knocking continue. He ignored it, instead leaning back against the couch and putting his feet on the coffee table. His thumb pressed down on the volume button as he turned the telly up higher. He soon drowned out the knocking, finding his attention caught by the cartoon he was watching. He cocked his head slightly when he heard the footsteps on the stairs and the loud aggravated groan coming from Willow. He smiled slightly, ignoring her completely as he watched Johnny Bravo.

"Damn it, turn that television down!" Willow said, shooting a glare at his back. She unlocked the door, surprised to see Buffy standing there. "Buffy? What are you doing here?"

Buffy smiled as her eyes ran over Willow, seeing the irritation in the green eyes and the slight frown on the pretty face of her best friend. "Hi, Wills. I'm fine. Nice seeing you too."

"Sorry," Willow smiled crookedly as she moved from the door, "I was in the middle of something and almost didn't hear you knocking. Why didn't you ring the bell?"

"I did," the slayer said with amusement as she closed the door behind her, "it just must not be working."

"Oh," Willow nodded, running through her mind for some idea why Buffy was over. She couldn't come up with anything. She heard the laughter of a growingly familiar cartoon character and shouted, "Spike, turn that damn thing down. I bet the neighbors down the street can hear Johnny laughing."

"We need a better sound system," Spike shot back, not even bothering to lower the volume. "This one is older than I am."

"I don't think anything is older than you," she said, forgetting that Buffy was there as she and Spike began to argue.

"Shhh, witch," he said in annoyance, "I'm trying to hear."

"Why don't you turn it up louder then?" she said sarcastically, "oh, wait, it can't get any higher!"

"Uh, Wills, why is Spike on your couch?" Buffy asked, leaning against the doorway as she looked back and forth from Willow to Spike.

"He thinks it is more comfortable than the chair," Willow said off handedly as she moved into the living room. She leaned over the sofa, snatching the remote as Spike began to curse. She turned it down to a reasonable level and smiled, "That's better."

"I can't hear it now," he whined, leaning his head back against the couch and giving her his best puppy dog look.

"Too bad," she said without remorse.

"But, Reeeeeed," he pouted, "It's Johnny Bravo....you know how much I love this show."

"I don't there's been a show that you don't like, Spike," she pointed out. "I mean, you were watching the TV Land marathon the other night for the Brady Bunch of all things."

"And who was sitting next to me the entire time?" he asked, giving her a pointed stare.

"Oh, hush," she said, tossing the remote on the television. Quickly, she leaned down and picked it back up as Spike glared at her.

"Willow...." Buffy started, surprised still that Spike was not only at her best friend's house, but that they two seemed to be flirting right in front of her. She grew thoughtful as she studied them both, listening to the banter and seeing how flustered Willow was becoming. She slowly started to smile, wondering if it was just her imagination or if there really were sparks flying. "I came by to see if you wanted to grab dinner."

"She's eatin' with me," Spike growled, his eyes narrowing as he looked at the daft slayer. "You can leave now....OUCH!"

Willow smiled innocently as he held his head where she had hit him with the remote, "Don't be rude to my friends."

"Sorry, luv, but she's annoying," he muttered, frowning as he rubbed the back of his head and turned his attention back to the telly. "Bollocks! I've missed half the program now."

"Wills, dinner?" Buffy asked, her eyes darting between the two at a more rapid rate. "You, me, hamburgers?"

"I'm sorry, Buffy, but I promised Spike we'd order pizza," Willow said, smiling apologetically at her friend before glancing at the television.

"You'd rather have pizza with Spike than burgers with your best friend?" Buffy asked, watching Willow turn a pale shade of red.

"It's not like that. I promised," Willow said, knowing without a doubt that Buffy must have questions that she was in no mood to answer. "What about Riley?"

"I guess he'll have to do," Buffy said, moving back towards the door. "But, tomorrow, you and I are going to lunch. Got it, Will?"

"I got it," Willow sighed, asking Spike, "This is a new one isn't it?"

"Yes," he nodded, patting the cushion beside him, "Sit and watch, pet. You can finish cleaning the bathroom later. It'll wait."

She smiled, moving to sit, bringing her feet up and watching the cartoon. She didn't even notice the large smile on Buffy's face as the slayer let herself out, shutting the door quietly behind her.

********************

"And do you have a picture for the program?"

Anya looked at the woman and frowned, "No. Do we need one?"

The woman, whose nametag read Bianca, got a disturbed look on her middle-aged face and sighed impatiently, "You're supposed to provide a photo for each bachelor to put in the program. That way the women are aware of who they are bidding on."

"I have a picture," Buffy said, digging in her purse and pulling out a wallet size photo of Riley.

"Thank you, dearie," Bianca said, "but you'll need to attach it with the application once it is all filled out."

"This is too much work," Anya complained, glaring at the woman. "We just want to auction off our lovers. Why can't we just toss them on stage?"

"Well, I uh," Bianca appeared flustered for a moment before recovering. "You say, they're your boyfriends?"

Buffy nodded, "Yeah. They wanted to do this for charity. To help raise money to help the homeless."

"This is for a children's hospital actually," Bianca muttered, wondering what had happened to the youth of today.

"Whatever," Buffy said, looking at the application more closely. "They have to fill everything in and give a picture?"

"Yes," Bianca said for the tenth time at least two the blonde girl, "though the picture is optional. The application must be completely filled out and turned in by the end of next week or they won't be eligible for the auction."

"Why are there so many rules?" Anya asked, looking at what appeared to be a huge rulebook but was actually closer to three pages.

"A majority of the book consists of appropriate date ideas and dress code. There are also some helpful hints to surviving the auction with they're sanity intact," Bianca explained. "Having dozens of women eyeing them like pieces of meat is a bit of a shock to most men."

Anya snorted, "Xander will enjoy it."

"Riley sure as hell better not," Buffy said, scowling at the application. Maybe this hadn't been a very good idea after all.

"Can I have a couple of extras?" Anya asked. "Xander probably won't get anything right and I'll need to fix it."

"Take as many as you need," Bianca said, wishing the girls would just leave.

"Thanks," Buffy said, taking an extra one. She glanced at Anya and smiled, "Can't forget the one for Spike."

"We need to remember to give it to him so he can get everything filled in," Anya said as the girls turned to leave.

"Oh, I have a pretty good idea I know exactly where to find him," Buffy said, walking out into the sunlight. "In fact, I think we could give it to Willow over lunch and he'd have it before dusk."

"Really?" Anya glanced at the slayer and smiled. "So, Red and Blondie? Is there some under the cover action going on there?"

Buffy made a face, "That is so something I don't want to even think about, but I doubt it. I think it's still in the flirting, I hate you, don't ignore me phase."

"Ah, I remember those days well," Anya smiled wistfully. "Oh please, it was like last year," Buffy said, rolling her eyes.

"Well, that doesn't mean I can't remember it," Anya defended with a smug smile.

"Come on, ancient one," Buffy said, shaking her head and laughing. "We have to meet a certain redhead for lunch."

"I'll get my interrogation skills ready," Anya said seriously.

"All righty, ex-demon girl, this is so not the Spanish inquisition," Buffy reminded.

"I promise, no blood," Anya said primly then ruined it by smiling an evil smile, "unless she refuses to answer our questions."

"What are we gonna do with you?" Buffy asked as she laughed.

"I'm believing that that is one of those questions you ask and don't really expect any answer to," Anya said thoughtfully. "Am I right?"

"Come on," Buffy said, getting into her car as she turned the radio on. "We don't want to be late and give Willow an excuse to leave."

"Drive on Jeeves," Anya said with a smile as they moved onto the road.

********************

"You guys are late," Willow scolded playfully as Buffy and Anya came into the diner. "I already drank half my coke."

"We ran into traffic of all things," Buffy said, shaking her head as she slid into the booth. "There was a fender bender at the intersection of Maple and Oak that had cars piled back five deep."

"Have you been waiting long?" Anya asked as she opened the menu.

"Not fifteen minutes," Willow said. "Anya, why do you even bother to read the menu? You always order the same thing."

"Because, one day I might surprise you and pick something different," Anya said loftily.

"So, how was dinner last night?" Buffy asked, getting straight to the point.

"It was fine," Willow said, keeping her tone even.

"What did you have?" Buffy asked.

"Chinese delivery," Willow said. "I didn't want pizza again. You know, they need to have a burger place that delivers. Do you know how much money they could make from lazy people like me that hate to cook?"

"I know what I want," Anya said, closing the menu. She looked up at Willow and smiled, "So, how long have you been fucking the undead?"

Willow choked on her drink, barely getting it down as she looked at Anya with wide eyes, "What?"

"You and Spike? The horizontal bop? How long has he been shagging you?"

"We aren't...we're not even friends," Willow said.

"Looked pretty friendly last night," Buffy said with a smile. "I mean, you chose watching silly cartoons with him over going out with me."

"I didn't choose him over you," Willow said, rolling her eyes. "I just didn't feel like getting out."

"You want him," Anya said bluntly. "Don't bother to deny it."

"Yeah, Wills. There was some major lusting going on there last night," Buffy said, "from BOTH of you."

"You're crazy," Willow shook her head. "There is no way that he was lusting at all. Hell, he can hardly stand me. He's only been hanging around because I have cable and an empty sofa."

"Oh, so he's been hanging around?" Buffy said, catching the redhead. "Empty sofa?"

"He's been using my TV and usually falls asleep on the couch. By the time I realize it, it's already past dawn and I can't really kick him out," Willow explained. Their conversation paused as the girls ordered their food but Anya eagerly took it back up after the waitress left.

"Why doesn't he just use the spare room?" Anya asked, watching the redhead. "You are all alone in that huge house. You have an empty room. He seems to have taken up residence there anyway, why not make it official?"

"You're not serious," Willow said, looking at the girl in shock. "I couldn't ask Spike to move in with me."

"Why not?" Buffy asked. After meeting Riley the night before, she had done some serious thinking about this latest turn of events in her life. By dawn, she was convinced that Willow had always had a crush on Spike and that the blonde seemed to actually care about her best friend. With that in mind, she had resolved to be as supportive and helpful as she could.

"Because, he and I aren't even friends," Willow said again. "Besides, he wouldn't want to live in my spare room."

"Probably prefer your bed, but a spare room is one step closer to the ultimate prize," Anya said with a leer.

"We are not discussing this," Willow said, shaking her head.

"Will, think about it. He's in a dark, gloomy cold crypt. He doesn't have good electricity or cable or even running water. Poor thing could have any sort of nasty sneak up on him and kill him in his sleep. While you live alone in that large, warm house that has indoor plumbing and over 150 channels to watch plus heating and cooling," Buffy said with a sad look. "Poor, poor Fang."

"Buffy, cut it out," Willow said, not impressed by the slayer's act. "You hate Spike. You couldn't care less if some nasty did kill him. What is this about?"

"I don't hate him," Buffy denied, figuring it wasn't exactly a lie. Intense dislike might not be the same as hate. "He's one of us now, even if he denies it. I worry the same way I'd worry if it were you or Xander living in a crypt."

"I'm not asking him to move in with me," Willow said. Even if the idea was something from her fantasies, she could never ask him that. To hear him laugh and make her feel foolish for even asking? Not something high on her list of things to experience.

"But, Willow," Buffy began before she saw the look of resolve cross the redhead's face. She sighed, "Fine. I won't push. Just know, if you decided to ask him out of the kindness of your huge heart, I wouldn't object."

"I'm sure that will make me sleep better at night," Willow said with a snort.

"Probably not, but a good looking blonde vampire might," Anya said with a laugh.

"Oh, before I forget, here," Buffy passed over the rulebook and application to Willow. "Give this to Spike tonight, will ya? It's the application and stuff for the auction."

Willow froze at the word auction, sure that her friends could read guilt all over her face. Here they were concerned about Spike and he was going behind their back and plotting to win their bet. She again wondered if she should have given in to him and agreed to win him. It didn't seem very fair. Shaking her head at her thoughts, she asked, "He has to fill this out?"

"Yes," Anya said, taking a drink of her strawberry milk shake. "And they want a picture, but I don't suppose Junior will have one. Oh well, it wasn't mandatory."

"I don't think I'm letting Riley put one in anyway," Buffy said, "I don't want all those women looking at him and leering."

"He can't have his picture put in but he can walk around and have women leer at him and bid on him?" Willow asked, laughing. "Explain that logic."

"Probably the same logic that allows an attractive sexual hunk sleep on the sofa of a girl that wants to jump him and ride him like crazy while she lays upstairs alone," Buffy said politely.

"I'll give this to him," Willow muttered, not able to deny Buffy's words. She didn't even ask why Buffy seemed to think she'd see Spike before the slayer. She just put the application and packet by her purse as the girls moved from that subject to some more general comments.

********************

Willow entered her house, her conversation with Buffy and Anya still fresh in her mind. She still couldn't believe both of her friends had urged her into asking Spike to move in. It seemed completely unreal. She had almost asked if they had somehow had their bodies invaded but figured that wouldn't go over very well. She entered her living room, surprised to see that things had been cleaned up. She put her purse and the packet down, hearing something in the kitchen. She sighed, wondering what mischief Spike had gotten into while she had been gone. At least he had tidied up the living room. When she entered the kitchen, she froze, not sure what to say.

"Eh, luv, you're home early," Spike said with a smile before he went back to stirring. "Did you enjoy your lunch with the girls?"

"Spike?" she asked, her eyes moving over his form. Yep, it was still her Spike, except instead of a leather coat he was wearing an apron. "Why are you wearing an apron?"

He looked at her and said patiently, "The soup might splash and I didn't want to muss my new shirt."

"OK. I now know I must be trapped inside some weird fucked up dream," she said, laughing hysterically. "First Buffy and Anya, now you. What the hell is this, Invasion of the Body Snatchers?"

"Let me just put this on to simmer and then you can explain that comment," he said, eyes narrowing slightly before he went back to his soup. Satisfied that it was going to be fine for a few minutes, he faced her again. "Now me what?"

"Spike, you're wearing an apron and cooking soup. Do you not find something oddly strange about that?" she asked.

He shrugged, "What is your hang up with the apron? I can take it off."

"No, leave it on," she said, starting to laugh. "Hell, I never imagined telling you that after you'd offered to disrobe."

He smiled slightly, studying her, "Did you have a tough day at school?"

She nodded, wondering what was happening to her mind. "I had a surprise test and a paper due. Then Buffy and Anya were bugging me at lunch."

"Poor pet," he clucked his tongue as he moved behind her. His hands went to her shoulders as he began to slowly massage away some of the tension.

"Hmm....that feels good," she whimpered, thanking her mind for its vivid dream. She could smell him, it was so real.

"I was going to do laundry but figured you wouldn't want me messing with your frillies so I left it," he said, fighting his bodies reaction to her whimpers and moans.

"You can mess with my frillies anytime you want, Spike," she moaned, moving her head to give him better access.

"Did you and the girls happen to have anything to drink at lunch?" he asked, puzzled by her behavior. She was outright flirting, something that Willow never did. He liked it, but it just seemed strange.

"I had three sodas. You know, they tasted real for a dream," she remarked, moving to lay her head on the table as his hands began to move from her shoulders down her back.

"A dream?" he said in a measuring tone, not sure what she was talking about.

"Uh huh," she said. "Except, you're wearing clothes. In most of the dreams, you're not. Of course, you usually don't cook either so....who knows?"

He started to laugh, "You think you're dreaming?"

She nodded, "Yep. Only logical explanation. I mean, you're cooking."

"I told you last night that I'd take care of dinner," he reminded, understanding suddenly why she was acting so dopey. Only Willow would explain strange behavior by thinking she was caught up in a dream. What was he going to do with her? Vivid images filled his mind suddenly, causing him to groan.

"That means that you order pizza," she said, aware of her body's response to his hands on it. Her nipples were hardened pebbles pushing against her shirt. She could feel her panties beginning to get wet and both of them were still fully dressed. Well, if this was like most of her dreams about Spike, they wouldn't be for much longer.

"It could also mean that I could make soup, one of the few things that I actually can cook," he said softly, the scent of her arousal impossible to ignore.

"Smells good," she mumbled, wondering why the hell her dream Spike was talking about damn soup instead of shagging her like crazy.

"Thanks," he smiled, suddenly losing the smile. "Bloody hell, it's starting to burn!"

Willow sat up when she heard him exclaim, watching as he pulled the pot of soup off the burner, cursing in a way that was typical Spike. Her face lost all its color as she reached over and pinched her arm. "Fuck!" She rubbed the mark, looking back up into amused blue eyes that were watching her expectantly. "This...this isn't a dream, is it?"

"What gave it away?" he asked, glancing down, "Too many clothes was it?"

"Oh. My. God," she said slowly, her face turning bright red as she realized some of things she had mumbled.

"Hungry, luv?" he asked, deciding to ignore her comments for the time being. He was in no position yet to take advantage of them so it would be best to let them go, for now.

"No," she squeaked, looking at her lap as she avoided his eyes. She had told him that he could play with her frillies for Christ sake and he wanted to feed her soup. She had never been so mortified.

Spike ignored her words, knowing that she must be hungry. He ladled some soup into a bowl and set it in front of her, setting out to get her a spoon and everything else she needed. He paused at the cabinet, looking over to find her watching him with a confused look. "Pet?"

"What are you doing?" she asked, looking from the soup and back to him. Suddenly, it made sense. She sighed, "What do you want?"

"Huh?" he asked, putting ice in a glass for her and finding her a soda.

"This. Dinner and everything. You must want something. What is it?" she asked, knowing there was no way he would have gone to such obvious trouble for her.

"Is that what you think?" he finally asked after a moment of silence. "That I must want something because I was nice? Why do I bother?"

"Then, why?" she asked, clearly confused.

"Does there have to be a reason?" he demanded, scowling as his good mood was ruined by her demanding questions. What could he tell her? That he hoped to so impress her with his culinary abilities that she would decide that she wanted to keep him around? That he hoped to overwhelm her with his charm and wit because he liked her. Might even love her. Not bloody likely. No siree. Not this Spike. No confessing of gooey human emotions for that vampire.

"There's always a reason," she said, studying him with curious eyes.

"No, there isn't," he shot back, ripping the apron off and tossing it to the ground. "Bugger this. I need some air."

"Spike, don't," she said softly, looking at the table. He'd even remembered to give her the crackers she liked the best. It just didn't make sense. Deciding to just go with it and not question anymore, she said, "I hate to eat alone."

"No more silly girly questions?" he asked skeptically.

"Promise," she said, crossing her fingers over her heart.

He waited a few minutes to stress to her just how irritated he was before the scowl left his face and he smiled, "Taste the soup, luv. It's a little recipe I picked up nearly a hundred years ago in Italy."

She smiled, relieved when he sat down and began to tell her about the latest developments on his soaps and the daytime talk show circuit. She tasted the soup, pleasantly surprised to find that it was delicious. She saw him smile as she ate, realizing that she would probably never understand Spike and, in a way, she was thankful for that.

********************

"I almost forgot," Willow said as they entered the living room, "Buffy gave me this for you."

"What is it?" he asked suspiciously, not trusting the slayer at all.

"The application for the bachelor auction," Willow explained, handing it to him. "You have to fill that out and turn it so you'll be registered to participate. Anya said the picture thing is optional so that shouldn't be a problem. I think there's also a rule book or something."

Spike took it, sitting down and making himself comfortable before he opened the first page. Reading through, he cursed, "Bloody hell, I can't answer all these daft questions."

"Why not?" Willow asked as she turned on the cartoon channel, smiling when she saw that Scooby Doo was playing. She sat down, taking a sip of her soda before sitting back.

"It wants my birthday, pet. I likely doubt that they would believe the truth. Besides, I don't even remember my birthday," he grumbled.

"Pick a date," she suggested, looking at him. They had spent over an hour at the dinner table, simply talking about their days as she had eaten. Afterwards, they had both done the dishes, him washing and her drying, before coming into the living room to spend the remainder of the evening.

"I don't know," he said, scowling. "This is stupid."

"I said that all along," she reminded with a smirk. "It's not that tough. Pick a day."

He frowned, finally saying, "March 23rd."

"See? That part was easy," she said, wondering why he had chosen such a specific seeming day. She probably would have come up something easy, like a holiday or something. Trust Spike not to be easy. "Now, hold old were you when you were turned?"

"I dunno," he shrugged. "Age wasn't very important to me back then. Still isn't."

Willow looked at him critically for a few moments, "You had to be at least twenty three. I'd say twenty five just to be safe."

"So I was born on March 23, 1976?" he asked, raising a brow.

"Sounds good to me," she said. Suddenly, she smiled, "you should have said February 14th. You could have been a Valentine's baby."

"March 23rd," he said, ignoring her. "That was an important date for me, that's when it should be."

"Fine. After all, it is your birthday," she said. "So, what else is tough?"

"Name, address, occupation," he began to read off the form, knowing there was no way he could truthfully answer any of those questions.

"Your name is William...what?" she asked, never having heard his last name.

"I have accounts under Fairchilde, Forsyte, Morgan, Wilding, and Davis," he using a finger for each name. "Those are the ones that I can remember off hand."

"Fairchilde?" she repeated with a slight smile.

His eyes narrowed at her amusement, "Drusilla opened that one shortly after my turning. Used to call me her Fair Haired Childe. Shortened it for the account."

"You had blonde hair then?" Willow asked, curious.

"No," he said. "Light brown and rather curly. It was horrid. I was a total poof, a pretty boy type."

"Not arrogant at all," she said wide eyed and innocently.

"I knew what I was," he said simply. "Not arrogant to speak the truth."

"I like it," she decided. "William Fairchilde, age 24."

He had to smile at the enthusiasm she held. "Address?"

"Here," she said without thinking. "You're practically living here anyway. Why not make it official? Next?"

"Why, Willow Rosenberg, are you asking me to move in?" he asked, giving her a look of shock. "I'm not that type of man, despite what you may have heard."

"You wouldn't even believe what I'd heard," she said with a snort.

"Offer me a roof over my head and cable all the while intending to compromise my virtue and seduce me," he shook his head, his eyes laughing at her.

"I would never seduce you, Spike, so don't worry about losing that virtue," she said, snickering over the last word.

"What? Am I not good enough to seduce? Does your taste run to chubby brunettes like the moron?" he asked, having heard of her early crush on Xander.

"Xander isn't chubby nor would I seduce him," Willow said, rolling her eyes. "What's the next question?"

"Uh uh, little girl," he shook his finger at her. "I want to know why you wouldn't seduce me. Do I not make your juices run? Light your fire? Make you want to get naked and get wild?"

"Occupation. That was it, wasn't it?" she asked, proud of herself for not reacting to his teasing.

"See how it is. A girl asks a bloke to move in and then won't even seduce him," Spike sighed dramatically.

"Why, Spike, did you want me to seduce you?" she asked, deciding to turn the tables on him. "Do your juices flow? Do I light your fire? Do you want to get naked and wild?"

He scowled, writing in her address in the blank, "I get the spare room. No more of this lumpy couch."

She laughed, strangely curious as to his reluctance to answer her question. She had anticipated some biting remark or insult but all she got was him moving on. Suddenly, she frowned, "You think my sofa is lumpy?"

"Damn straight," he nodded. "Worse than the alter back at the crypt."

"Then pray tell, why did you spend the last week and a half sleeping on it?" she asked pointedly.

He shrugged, "It was warmer than the crypt plus you had cable. Doesn't matter. I've got the spare room now."

"You planned that didn't you?" she accused, laughing sharply. "The cleaning and the cooking. You wanted me to ask you to move in. Why?"

He looked at her, his eyes cold and closed off, "Moving on, occupation."

"I would have let you stay without all that," she said softly, hating the idea that he had only been hanging around her for a warm place to stay that had cable. Well, that and for her co-operation at the auction. "You didn't have to act for me."

"Wasn't acting," he said simply, tapping his pencil. "Somehow I don't think vampire would go over well with the bidders."

"Put investments. That leaves it open for speculation," she said quietly, her good mood ruined by the thought that he had only been nice in hopes of getting somewhere to stay. And here she had thought there was a slight chance that he might be having some sort of feelings for her. She should have known better. Someone like Spike did not fall for someone like her. It just didn't happen that way in real life. Those endings were for the movies.

Spike frowned at her as he wrote in her answer. He asked a few more questions, receiving monosyllable answers instead of her enthusiastic reply. He finally shut the application and grabbed her hand. "Come on."

"What?" she asked, having to get to her feet before he pulled her arm from its socket.

"We're going out," he said, giving her a look that dared her to protest. He was annoyed with himself and with her. They had been having such a great time, simply enjoying each other, then she'd let her damn insecurities ruin it all, again. She didn't seem to believe that he could actually enjoy being with her without wanting or needing something. Hell, he needed and boy did he want. Wouldn't her prissy little head spin if she had any idea of his thoughts concerning her. Shaking off his demon's coaxing voice that demanded he show her exactly what he wanted from her, he grabbed her coat. "Put this on," he said, holding it for her to put on.

"Where are we going?" she asked, not sure she wanted to go out with him. Who was she kidding? She'd follow him to hell and back if he asked her too.

"For a walk," he decided. "It's a cool night and the stars are out. We should be out there enjoying it instead of in here watching re-runs of Scooby Doo for the fiftieth time."

"I don't know," she started.

"Willow," he interrupted, catching her off guard by using her real name, "would you please go on a walk with me?"

She smiled brightly, nodding shyly as she said, "I'd love to."

********************

Willow walked slightly ahead of Spike, her eyes looking anywhere but at him. He frowned, wondering what he had done wrong. He thought back, not really seeing what he had said to hurt her. She couldn't possibly be upset that he thought her couch was lumpy. Yet, something had changed. Their easy conversation had stopped. She had looked so sad and he had felt worse than he ever had before for causing that sadness. Damn it, he was such a bloody poofster. He had suggested this walk in hopes that she'd be forced to talk to him. Instead, she seemed hell bent on ignoring him.

Willow felt Spike behind her. She could hear the sound of his boots on the sidewalk, hear the irritated sighs that he was making. She couldn't believe she had been so stupid. She'd honestly thought that he enjoyed being with her, that he might like her the way she liked him. He'd just been using her for her house. She should have known better. She'd let Buffy and Anya convince her that it might be something more.

"Enough," he snarled, anger in his eyes and voice. He watched her turn around, her eyes sparking with anger of her own but there was a tint of fear in their green depths. He stared at her, not backing down, "I will not have you ignore me like some petulant child."

"I'm not ignoring you," she said tightly. "I've forgotten you exist."

He snorted, "Baby, you couldn't forget about me even if you tried. Quit acting like some silly brat and talk to me."

"What should it matter to you if I talk to you?" she asked. "You still get your nice warm place to stay and the free cable. My friendship doesn't happen to be part of the bargain."

"Bugger that," he said, glaring at her. "Your friendship isn't part of the bargain? What the hell did I do? You're the one that asked me to move in. I didn't ask. Fuck it. I won't move in. If this is going to make you all pissy, I can stay where I am."

"You don't want to live with me?" she asked, her anger leaving as she imagined living at her house without Spike. She didn't like that image.

"What I want doesn't matter, pet," he said, knowing that at that moment he wanted nothing more than to sink deep inside her and fuck her standing on the damn sidewalk. "I'm not losing you over this."

She slowly smiled, watching as he fumbled for his pack of cigarettes, lighting one and avoiding her gaze. He would give up the warm house and free cable to keep her friendship. She knew it was silly, but, to her, that was better than any declaration of love. Spike giving up cable was like most men sacrificing themselves. Oh, he didn't love her. Not like she loved him, but friendship was good. Seeing him everyday and sharing her life with him, that was good too. She watched as he scowled, his eyes looking at the sky as he continued to smoke. "Spike?"

"What?" he barked, angry at himself for having almost said too much. Hell, he'd already said too much as it was. He didn't want to lose her, his demon mimicked in a right poofy tone. Like some pathetic little human. He saw her soft smile and sighed, not caring that he'd had to be poofy to earn it.

"I want you to stay with me," she said quietly, chewing on her lip. "I changed my mind....friendship can be included."

"I won't do this if it's gonna make you all snitty," he warned, facing off against her.

She laughed softly, shaking her head. "I'm sorry. I overreacted a bit. It just...I didn't like being used."

"No one does, pet," he said, taking a drag from his smoke.

"Come on, Romeo," she said, giving him a large smile. "We have an application that still needs to be finished."

"Don't remind me," he groaned, making a face as he smiled back at her. He slung his arm over her shoulders in what he hoped was a friendly way. He ignored his demon's coaxing voice telling him to claim her there and then. He would wait. At least until this bleeding auction was finished.

"It will be fine," she said, ignoring the rush of heat that spread over her from the casual touch. "It will all be over next week."

"Thank God," he muttered, looking forward to Willow claiming her prize. He smiled a wicked smile as he imagined that night and everything that he had planned for his little redhead witch.

********************

Spike re-read the question, a scowl on his handsome face. He looked up when he heard the soft giggle, his eyes narrowing at the amused redhead. "What's so funny, Red?"

"You," Willow said, rolling her eyes. "You've come up with answers or lies for every other question, but this one has you stumped. I'd think it should have been the easiest of them all."

"It's not," he said crossly, looking back at the paper. He had filled out the damn application for the auction. Every question but one. He wasn't sure what he should say, knowing that his true intentions for his date, namely Willow, could not be written. He could just see the organizers reading his simple words, Shag her, claim her and make her mine. Somehow he figured his application would end up in the wastebasket. Of course, his other normal answers wouldn't do either. With Dru, a good date was going out, killing a few people, shagging in their blood and maybe a spot of torture thrown in for good measure. Again something these silly humans would not understand.

"Do you need some help?" Willow asked, trying not to laugh. "I mean, is it really all that important what you write? You've rigged the auction anyway. You know that I'll be winning you so why bother making it very good?"

"I will not have those daft women think that I can't provide a good date for my winner," he said, glaring at her.

"Ah, an ego thing," she said, finally making sense of it all.

"You say that as though it's a bad thing," he muttered. "Besides, don't want Slutty or the Bimbo thinking you'd spend all that money on a bad date, would you?"

"They'll think I'm crazy for spending anything on you," she said with a smile, "much less a lot of money."

"Cheeky brat."

"What's the question?" she asked, making herself comfortable on the sofa as she watched him. It had been two days since he had officially moved in with her. It was strange, but she liked having him living right down the hall. Of course, she had had no idea that he liked to walk around half naked most the time or that he showered at nearly the same time of day that she did, causing her to walk in on him once already. She could still see the shadows against the curtain, thinking her bravest act had been leaving that bathroom without simply letting her robe fall and joining him in the shower. Even now, she could imagine what he had looked like on the other side of the curtain.

"'List the activities that your date will entail'," Spike read in an annoyed tone.

"That's it?" she laughed, images of a soapy Spike leaving her mind as she looked at him. "That's the one that has you so stumped?"

"Red," Spike warned, his voice almost growling at her amused face.

"Don't get so touchy, Grumpy," she said with a smile. "I'd say that was pretty easy. You can get as detailed as you want or be as vague as you want. List a couple of things that sound like they'd be fun and that's it."

"How do I know if they'd be fun?" he challenged, raising a brow.

"Well, what's fun to you?" she asked, moving the cushion under her head as she looked at him.

"Killing, shagging, torturing," he listed off on each finger.

"OK...I see the problem," she said, tearing her mind from him simply putting shagging as his date's activity. "Well, do you want something adventurous or romantic or fun or simple or lavish."

"I don't know," he said, rubbing his temple. "This is giving me a headache."

"You made the bet," she reminded with a smile.

"Next time I try to do something that bloody stupid, smack me," he said with a sigh as he scowled at the application.

"My pleasure," she said, laughing as he snarled at her. "Poor baby. Why don't you just pick something. Like I said, it's not like you'll actually be doing anything you list anyway."

"Ah, but there's where you're wrong, luv," he said with his own smile. "It's in the rule book. We bachelors must make sure the date is carried out 100 percent to our winning bidder's expectations."

"But I'll be the winning bidder and I expect to come home and watch cartoons," Willow said.

"I will not list my date activities as watching cartoons," he said with a pout. Suddenly, he sat up and smiled, "I don't have to turn this in for a few more days do I?"

She shook her head, "Five I think. Why?"

"Just enough time," he decided, smiling a wicked smile as he eyed her.

"For what?" she asked, not liking the cunning and calculating look that had entered his blue eyes.

"Research," he said.

"Research?" she repeated, not following his logic.

"Adventurous, lavish, romantic, fun, simple," he ticked off each finger on one hand. "We'll research and decide what I should list for that damn question."

"What?" she squeaked as she sat up, her eyes wide as she looked at him.

"Must I always explain everything to you twice?" he muttered, smiling at her disbelieving look. Teach her to tease him. "You, me, research. Five nights, five different date packages, so to speak. Since it was your idea, I'll let you choose the first one."

"My idea?" she said, shaking her head. "Spike, this is not part of the bargain. I agreed to win you so that you wouldn't end up with some human that might ask questions."

"You agreed to help me prepare for the auction," he said, studying her closely. "You've been out shopping with me. What's a few nights of research? Not like they'd be real dates or anything....."

"They wouldn't?" she asked, disappointment in her voice that she was not aware of.

"Course not," he said, trying to sound reassuring instead of desperate. This was too perfect. He'd slowly seduce her over the next five nights, figure out what she liked and didn't like so that he knew exactly what to put on his application. He was living in her house, sleeping not two doors down from her. Next step would be sharing her bed, making her his and becoming an accepted part of her life. These next few nights might help him a lot in achieving that particular goal. "Just a friend helping another friend."

She scowled, hating him for playing on her weakness. She would never turn down a friend in need. "Fine. Five nights. But that's it. The rest of this auction, you're on your own. No more Willow helping constantly."

"Yeah, sure," he said, crossing his fingers behind his back as he smiled charmingly at her. "So, what's it gonna be first, luv?"

She made a face, thinking about it. Smiling she said, "Something simple."

"I think I can come up with something," Spike said, leaning back as he began to think.

********************

"He wants her."

"No, really?"

"Don't take that sarcastic tone with me."

"Ooh, touchy touchy. She let him move in."

"I know. Isn't it sweet?"

"Not sure if sweet and Spike fit in the same sentence."

"When he's with Willow, they do. He wants her. Could even love her."

"You think? Really? It's that far gone?"

"Watch his eyes next time we're all together. They hardly ever leave her face. And that sappy little smile that crosses his lips when he watches her. Yeah, it thinks it's more than lust."

"I've never noticed anything."

"Big shocker there."

"Oh shut up. You probably didn't even notice until we realized she wanted him. Easy to go back and think about those little smiles and longing looks. I bet I could see it now too."

"So, we know that they want each other. Might even love each other. Strange, that doesn't really bother me."

"Me either. They fit in a weird way that only would make sense on the Hellmouth. Do you think they realize their feelings or are they both still in denial?"

"Oh, I think the realization is there. Acceptance is another thing. Look at how flustered our questions made Willow the other day. And did you see her today? She was glowing. And he's only been there a couple of days."

"I know. It's so sweet, watching them falling in love. We've been there the whole time watching it happen, even if we didn't realize it until recently. So, we now come to the question at hand."

"Which is?"

"Do we sit back and let it happen or do we give them a little bit of help?"

"Well, that's a tough question. We have the bet to consider. He's going to be auctioned off to some old biddy with money to spend. That might hurt Willow if they're just getting together."

"True. Damn, I forgot that stupid auction. Well, then, I guess we can wait until after the auction. If they haven't gotten their act together by then, we can start planning."

"Of course, doesn't mean we can't do a little nudging to get Willow to open her eyes to the truth."

Buffy smiled as she nodded, "Yeah, doesn't mean we can be good friends by helping her."

Anya laughed, "And after this silly auction is finished, we can change those nudges to solid pushes."

********************

Willow paced nervously across her floor, her bottom lip becoming red from being drawn up between her teeth. She smoothed her hand over her shirt, her green eyes looking down and doing a quick inventory. She was wearing a sleeveless cotton shirt and blue jeans. Nothing all that becoming, though the shirt was a pretty burnt orange that she thought looked good with her hair and complexion. This was the night of simple. That was how she had started to think about it, at least. The simple date. As if any true date with Spike would ever be simple. Thankfully, this wasn't a true date. This was a friend helping out another friend. Yeah, that's all it was. She was just being a good friend. She sat on the edge of her bed, running a hand over her face and through her hair. Who was she kidding? She hadn't even been this nervous the first time that she and Oz had gone out on a real date. Her mind might know that this was just a friendly outing, but her body and heart just wouldn't listen. She had wanted this so desperately, wanted nothing more than for him to ask her out, well, check that. She may have wanted more, but that was usually when she was laying in bed and....She groaned as she fell back on her bed, wondering if she had enough strength to make it through not only one but five 'friendly' dates with the one man that could turn her on with just a word. As Spike might say, not bloody likely.

She stood, her eyes looking at the small alarm clock on her bedside table. They had agreed for the date to begin at 8. It was not five till. She couldn't put it off any longer. She grabbed a light coat, knowing that even in the spring, Sunnydale could get rather cool at night. She opened her door, not seeing anyone in the hall. She saw that Spike's door was still closed, wondered if he had changed his mind and decided that this wasn't a good idea, then chalked it up to nerves. She went down the stairs, deciding that she would wait for him in the living room. She had no idea what they were doing that night. The infuriating vampire had clammed up the night before after he had announced their research project. She had seen him earlier that day, but he'd just smiled and not said a word. She'd been tempted to pull down one of her new heavy curtains to threaten him into telling her something, but then she'd remembered that the vacuum was upstairs and she wasn't really in the mood to bring it down, so she'd just smiled back, her eyes flashing annoyance.

She sat on the couch, looking towards the stairs and frowning. According to the clock, it was 8. All she heard was silence from upstairs. Where was he? She leaned back, a worried look entering her eyes. What if he had been so horrified at the idea of dating her, even in the course of research, that he had run away? Or maybe he had found someone else to help him 'research', some leggy blonde that was all too happy to help. She stood at that thought, calling up, "Spike? Are you ready yet?"

No answer.

A growl from her as she said louder, "Spike! Get that undead ass down here. Let's go!"

Again, no answer.

She was about to call out again when the doorbell rang. She glanced towards it, her eyes narrowing in irritation. She had told Buffy earlier that she had plans that night, though she had deliberately been vague about what they entailed. Hell, she didn't even know herself so it hadn't been lying. Trust the slayer to not let it go. She opened the door, a sarcastic remark on her lips for her best friend, "Buffy, give it up...."

Her words faded as she saw the blonde standing there, a lazy smile on his handsome face. He raised an eyebrow, his eyes sweeping over her casually dressed form, leaving a scorching path in their wake. "Wrong blonde, pet."

She swallowed, hard, as she looked at him. He shouldn't be allowed to be that sexy. There should be a law or something. She'd have to write congress, later. He was wearing a pair of faded blue jeans that fit him in all the right places paired with a white T-shirt. She was shocked first to see him in white, a color that she honestly doubted he knew existed. Secondly, he wasn't wearing black jeans and his leather duster was nowhere to be seen. Spike without the duster was strange, almost like Buffy without her cross. It was a part of him. Not that she was really complaining. Without the heavy leather, she was able to get a clear view of him, of the shirt that molded smooth muscles that her hands were aching to touch, of the worn jeans that made her wonder if he was wearing anything under them. She heard him chuckle and her eyes flew away from those parts she shouldn't have been looking to look into amused blue eyes. She felt a slow blush creeping over her face as she said, "Spike."

"See something you like, luv?" he drawled, her arousal already making his demon fight for control. What the hell had he been thinking last night? Five nights with her without tossing her to the ground and riding her to exhaustion. This was worse torture than listening to Peaches sing. And he was the only one to blame for this. Maybe he was turning into a masochist, enjoying creating his own torturous pain.

"I thought you were upstairs," she said hurriedly, not wanting him to know where her thoughts were going. Not wanting him to know that she was seriously tempted to say fuck it and just kiss him.

"This is a date, pet," he reminded with a smile, knowing that he had caught her.

"Not a real date," she said, turning to find her coat.

Spike moved behind her, his words soft, "Isn't it, luv?"

She turned, gasping when she realized how close he was. She struggled for a breath, trying to ignore the fact that she could move just an inch and she'd be touching him. She tried to remember what they had been talking about, finally managing to say, "No, it's research. For the auction. You don't have to pretend."

"I'd never pretend with you, Red," he said, his words serious, too serious he realized as he took a step back, an easy smile crossing his lips, "this is for that silly questionnaire so we're doing it right. I'd pick her up at her door, like a gentleman. Besides, can't really tell them that I live with you, now can I luv? Might get a wee bit suspicious."

"Yeah, you're right," she said softly, relaxing slightly as he moved a bit farther away. "I just didn't think you'd be that detailed. I thought you were upstairs and got a bit worried...."

"Ah, I see," he said, smiling softly as he saw her insecurities and doubts flash on her face before she hid them away. "I'd never stand you up, Red. Was just making a few final arrangements for our date."

She tried to ignore that he could make the word date sound like something forbidden and so erotic with that husky and sexy voice, but her body reacted, her nipples tightening against the soft cotton and a fresh wave of butterflies fluttering in her stomach. She decided that she shouldn't have worn panties. They were just going to be soaked by the end of the night. "Yeah, the date. I'm ready."

"You look beautiful," he said, mentally adding delicious, sexy and overdressed. He picked up his duster and put it on, hearing her soft sigh and glancing at her from beneath lowered lids. She was looking at him as if he was a piece of chocolate cake and she was on a strict diet. He straightened, seeing her look away and busy herself with her own coat. He moved towards her, taking the coat from her shaky hands and holding it for her to slide on. He deliberately let his fingers touch her shoulders, noticing that she leaned in for the touch before straightening and flashing him a smile.

"Yeah, right. But thanks," she said, moving towards the door. She knew she wasn't by any means beautiful, and especially not in an old pair of jeans and a plain cotton shirt. She looked back at him, surprised to see him watching her with something akin to lust. Shaken, she asked, "You ready?"

He nodded, taking her hand and holding it with a possessive grip as they stepped into the cool night air. "Let's go. Date one officially begins now."

********************

Willow had no idea where they were going. They had left her house nearly an hour before and had started walking. She didn't really mind walking with Spike, enjoying any chance to be with the blonde vampire, but she was starting to get hungry and a bit tired. That combination would well make her cranky. Somehow she didn't think that she should be cranky on her first pseudo date with Spike. He might not want another. And, in a way, the mystery of their evening was sort of exciting. He had given her details, just telling her to wear something informal and comfortable. She had to wonder what Spike would come up with for a simple date. She looked at him and realized that he must have asked her something while she had been lost in her thoughts. He was walking beside her, looking at her with a smile of amusement and a look of expectancy. "Sorry, I didn't hear that last remark."

He laughed, moving his hand to take hers, "I said that it is a nice evening out, isn't it?"

Willow gulped at the first touch of his cool hand on hers. Nodding, she said, "Yeah, it's pleasant."

"Good start for the date, do you think?" he asked, trying to sound interested. All he cared about at the moment was how beautiful she looked in the pale moonlight and how nice it was to be able to be with someone that like her.

"Walking miles upon miles?" she asked, laughing. "Spike, honey, not many women would find a long walk enjoyable after paying who knows what for your company."

"You don't like it?" he asked, frowning.

"I love it," she said, shaking her head, "but I'm not most women. You know that I love to walk. This is perfect, for me."

The smile that crossed his face was proud and pleased. He held her hand a bit more tighter as they continued to walk, "Well, I wasn't sure exactly what simple met. Had me at a bit of a loss, actually. Have I said yet how beautiful you look?"

"What?" she looked at him in surprise as a smile crossed her face, "You think so? In these old things?"

"You always look beautiful," he said matter of factly as he turned the corner, pulling her along with him. "We're almost there."

"Almost where?" she asked, still reeling from his compliment. She caught herself when she realized that he must be acting. This was just part of his expected date behavior, much like picking her up at her front door had been. He didn't really find her beautiful.

"Stop it," he warned, seeing the look of doubt on her beautiful face. How could anyone so perfect have such little confidence?

"Stop what?" she asked, looking at him in confusion.

He stopped and faced her, "I'm not lying. You are ravishing, even in old jeans and a T-shirt. This date may be a research project, but I am not acting a part. You're beautiful, deal with it."

The smile that came over her face was large, "Yes, sir. Got it sir."

"Brat," he muttered, smiling despite himself as he started them walking again. They continued their conversation as they walked, simply enjoying being together though neither would admit it out loud. Spike finally saw their destination ahead and smiled, wondering if his idea of simple was the same as Willow's. "We're here."

Willow looked over, surprised to find that they had walked to the Sun Cinema. She smiled, looking at him, "A walk and a movie?"

"With burgers after," he said, shrugging. "Seemed simple enough to me."

"Do you think we can agree on the movie?" she asked skeptically, her eyes looking over the choices.

"As long as I don't have to read it, we're cool," he said.

"So I could pick the sappiest, most romantic movie and you wouldn't complain?" she teased, watching him grimace slightly.

"Might not enjoy it, but I won't complain," he promised, knowing that he would be too busy focused on her sitting beside him in the dark, probably sharing some buttery popcorn with their hands meeting by accident or not by accident several times, to actually watch whatever movie they did see.

"How about the comedy?" she suggested, knowing that romantic movies with Spike beside her would just be bad. Very bad.

"Sounds lovely, pet," he said, moving forward to get their tickets, his hand still holding hers.

********************

"So, what did you do last night?" Buffy asked the redhead, watching the small smile leave Willow's face as her friend looked up at her.

"Um, nothing much. Just hung around," Willow said, hoping that Buffy would drop it. The night before had been date number two between her and Spike. The lavish date. It had included a dinner at a very expensive French restaurant and had ended with a carriage ride through the park. She had enjoyed it, being with Spike always a treat, but personally thought their walk along with the movie and burgers had been more fun. They'd spent that entire night talking and holding hands, ending it with him kissing her hand at her front door. Last night he had walked her to the door and brushed a chaste kiss against her forehead.

"With Spike?" Anya asked, watching the redhead closely.

"Yeah," Willow said, feeling guilty again for helping him with the auction. She knew she shouldn't be, it wasn't fair to Anya and Buffy for him to have the safety net like that. But, she couldn't tell him no.

"Riley and I were out patrolling last night," Buffy explained, smiling slightly, "and I saw you and Spike in the park. Riding in one of those carriage things."

"You saw us?" Willow squeaked, her face blushing softly. How was she going to talk her way out of this one without mentioning research?

"You two were so absorbed in each other I'm not surprised that you didn't see us. Even my shouting your name didn't draw you away from him," Buffy said with a smug smile.

"So, is he good in bed?" Anya asked, laughing as Willow turned even brighter red.

"I uh I don't know," Willow stammered, glaring at her friends' amusement. "You two need to stop! Spike and I are nothing more than friends. He had a problem that he needed some help with last night. I am not fucking him, Anya, so stop asking!"

"Someone's grumpy," Anya said, "and frustrated. Poor Willow. Is he doing all the teasing and none of the follow through?"

"Yes, no, I mean, just shut up," Willow said crossly, plunging her fork into her french fry.

"Uh oh, someone's getting violent," Buffy whispered to Anya with a wink. "Willow, we don't mean to tease. It's just so cute, you and Spike."

"Adorable, really," Anya added with a friendly smile.

"There is no me and Spike," Willow said, sighing as she put her fork down. "I told you, we're just friends."

"But you want there to be more, don't you?" Buffy asked seriously, hating to see her friend so wistful.

"Maybe," Willow whispered, speaking her thoughts aloud for the first time. "I might be feeling something for him that goes beyond friendly."

"He wants you," Anya said, scowling. "Why can't it work if you both want the same thing, each other?"

"It just can't," Willow said, shaking her head. "Besides, you're nuts. He doesn't want me. We're friends."

"Did I tell you that Riley found the perfect suit for the auction?" Buffy said, deciding that Willow deserved a break from their pestering.

"Does it cover his face?" Anya asked sweetly, watching as Buffy glared at her.

"No, it molds his muscles perfectly. He looks absolutely yummy, I must say. Last night, when he tried it on, well, I couldn't keep my hands off of him," Buffy admitted with a smile.

"I'm still trying to find Xander the right look," Anya said, frowning. "I only have five days until the auction. I hope I find something before then."

"If you don't, he could always parade around naked. Hell, it might make his bid higher and you'd win this stupid bet," Willow said sharply, hating the auction and the bet and herself for having fallen in love with someone she could never have.

"If Spike doesn't fuck you soon, I might have to kill you," Anya said sweetly though her eyes were narrowed in annoyance. Her Xander was not going to be naked in front of anyone but her. Hell, she'd find him a turtleneck to wear. Cover every inch of his flesh from those women's eyes.

"Just make it fast," Willow said, knowing that Spike would never be fucking her so that made it seem more likely that Anya would just be killing her.

"Why don't we finish our lunch before any blood is shed," Buffy suggested, sighing as she looked at Willow. Yep, something had to be done there. Her friend was unhappy. She did not like that. Not at all.

********************

"Tonight, we're doing something fun," Spike said as he looked at Willow, a smile on his face.

"Fun?" she repeated, looking down at her blue jeans, green T-shirt and sneakers deciding that she was dressed appropriately enough for fun. "Good, I don't have to change."

"Nope, no changing needed," he decided as he walked towards the door. He was starting to enjoy this dating thing, getting to come up with ideas that would please Willow. Spending time with her, learning more about her, it was too good to be true. Of course, he was also faced with dealing with his growing feelings for her, with the attraction that crackled between them every time they touched. And the silly little girl seemed oblivious to it all. The night before, nestled against her warm and tempting body, he had come closer than ever to giving in and taking her. He had come home and dreamed about shagging her like mad in the carriage as it had driven through the park. It was so bad now that he could not close his eyes without her face appearing and teasing him. His body reacted on sight of her now, hardening to a point that was nearly impossible to ignore. He was so bloody tired of ignoring it. Tonight, he had been smart. He'd tried to think of something fun that did not involve touching or being so close that her scent invaded his mind and senses.

"Good," she said, following him. "You know, we can take my car if you want."

"You have a car?" he stopped and looked at her in surprise. If she had a vehicle, why did she insist on walking through the dangerous streets of Sunnydale?

"Yep. Got it for Graduation, from the parents," she explained. "It's a Ford Escort. I've driven it a couple of times, but I can usually walk anywhere that I need to go so it tends to stay in the garage."

"I've never heard you mention it before," he said, frowning as he wondered what other secrets she had.

"Like I said, I've hardly driven it. I've had my license since I was sixteen, but never had anything to drive. When I got the car, I was so used to walking everywhere that it didn't seem important.," she said. "You can use it, if you want. It just stays in the garage."

"You'd let me drive your car?" he asked, smiling slowly at the pleasure her trust brought.

"Of course," she said, surprised that he even asked. "As long as you're living here, consider it yours."

He couldn't resist. Her gesture pleased him so much that he felt his control slip for just a brief moment. He leaned over and caught her surprised lips with his, kissing her soundly without the exploring that he ached for. Pulling back, he grinned, "Where are the keys?"

"Kitchen," she said, her lips stinging from his too brief kiss. She had almost forgotten how good his lips felt against hers, the reminder hitting her harder than she thought possible. "Key rack."

"I'll get them," he said with a wink as he went back into the house.

She watched him go, giving in and leaning against the porch rail for support. He could kiss her breathless with one brief touch of his lips and then run off for the car keys looking much like a child at Christmas. How could he not be affected? True, that kiss had not been as searing as the late night kiss on the couch had been, this one more friendly than seductive, but both had knocked her on her ass, so to speak. Only three more dates then it would be time for the auction. Once that was over and done with, maybe her life could get back to normal. Why did that thought make her sad? She sighed, leaning her head against the railing as she waited for Spike to find the car keys. Then they could begin their fun date.

********************

"Ha, another point for me," Willow said, laughing as she watched the ball go into the small opening. "Hole in one!"

"Yeah, yeah," Spike muttered, shaking his head as he smiled. "Quit rubbing it in, Tiger."

"That makes four doesn't it?" she asked with an innocent statement as he stuck his tongue out at her. Laughing, she moved forward and retrieved her green ball. She stood back, watching as Spike moved towards his ball. He acted so serious, his eyes studying the angles and his body getting his stance just right. He reached back and swung, knocking the poor ball out of the lane and into the bushes behind this particular hole. She chewed on her lip to keep from laughing at his sullen statement. "Have you lost another one?"

"Shut up," he said, giving her a glare as he moved to the bushes to retrieve the damn blue ball. "Is it my fault they make these lanes too small?"

"You're using too much power, too much force. This isn't regular golf, Spike. You have to be slow and use short strokes," she explained, having watched him send the ball out of the lane on every one of the seven holes they had played so far. He was just too strong for miniature golf.

"Don't tell me about my strokes," he said, pausing to give her a friendly leer, "I've never had anyone complain before."

"Oh you," she felt the heat cover her face as he laughed before going back to search for his ball. She stormed away from him moving to the eighth hole without him. If he didn't want to listen, fine. This was one game she'd win easily.

Spike found his ball and marked an X on the seventh hole on his scorecard. He should just give up, take her bowling or something where he could whack the ball as hard as he could without losing. Instead, he stood and watched her, enjoying the view. She was so careful when putting, her eyes measuring things he probably didn't even know about. When she hit the ball, he could see the restraint and the gentleness. The ball did exactly what she wanted, usually ending up in the damn hole or resting in a place where she could easily sink it with a second hit. His flew from the lane and ended up in bushes or the small river running through the golf course. He had to wonder if she'd have that same concentration when he took her to his bed. Groaning, he looked down to see his pants growing increasingly tighter. Seeing her pert little ass wiggle like that coupled with the direction of his thoughts was wreaking havoc on his libido. "Just hit the damn ball."

Willow looked at him in surprise at hearing the husky command. She froze when she saw his eyes, stormy blue with emotions that she didn't understand. She looked away, staring at her ball as she gathered her thoughts. She hit it, watching as it rolled close to its destination. Moving to the side, she gestured, "Your turn."

He put his ball down with force, counting to ten over and over as he willed his desire away. It wasn't working. It had been weeks of this build up, of the passion reaching a point that he could no longer ignore. Damn it, this was not how he wanted their evening to go. With him barely in control, wanting nothing more than to claim her and brand her as his and her completely lost in her innocent world of just friends, having no idea the true direction his thoughts took when looking at her.

"Spike, listen," she said, moving to lay her club down and going to him. "Hold it like this," she moved her small arms around him, breathing in the scent of leather and tobacco and smelling the underlying scent of her own vanilla body wash mixed with citrus from her shampoo. She had never imagined vanilla and citrus being quite as intoxicating as they were when mixed with Spike's unique scent. She felt her nipples tightening as they brushed against his back. He froze at her touch and she could have sworn that she heard him inhale sharply. She put her hands on his, enjoying the feel of his cool flesh before trying to get her mind on the task at hand, which was getting him to not send the ball into outer space. She drew his arms back and swung, watching as the ball moved directly into the hole, causing her to laugh, "See? That's all it takes."

Spike opened his eyes as she moved away from him, his blue eyes dark with lust and need as they looked at the hole. He growled softly, his demon taking over as his desire overtook him. Her body against his had been too much. He might have been able to fight it until he was safe in his room, but she'd touched him. He turned to face her, seeing her smile before his arms snaked around her. He pulled her against him, knowing there was no way of concealing his erection as he pulled her body flush against his. He heard her cry of surprise before his mouth took hers, his tongue sweeping inside as she opened her mouth to protest or argue or whatever. His hand moved behind her, resting on her ass cheek as he moved his pelvis against hers, needing any sort of contact with her. His hips rocked against her, his cock moving against the zipper of his jeans straining to get free and to enter her tight warmth. His free hand moved up to knead her breast, his thumb brushing against her hard nipple through the fabric of her shirt and bra. He felt her hands hesitantly move along his back, one moving into his hair as she held him in place. He growled against her mouth as he moved her towards a tree that stood beside the course. Pushing her against it, his hand slid under her ass to pull her up. Her legs moved around his waist as his cock came in contact with the juncture between thighs, denim from both of them keeping it from making direct contact. He heard her soft cry of pleasure as she pushed against him, moving her pelvis against his. The scent of their arousal was overwhelming, an intoxicating scent that made his demon push against her with more deliberate movements. He felt the tension move over him, his thrusts becoming faster as they moved against each other, their mouths still joined, his hand on her breast, his squeezing more becoming rough as he neared his release. When he felt it coming, he pulled away from her mouth, giving out an animalistic growl as he came, his eyes flashing yellow as he moved to capture her own cry of release, biting into her lip as he felt the need to have her blood.

Willow felt the slight pain of his bite but was too busy riding out the remains of her most explosive orgasm to worry. She felt the wetness coating her panties and knew that her jeans must be soaked. The bark from the tree was rubbing against her back, scraping her shirt with every thrust. Dazed, she looked at the night sky, wondering what had just happened. She and Spike had just had sex. True, clothes had gotten in the way of actual consummation, but it had been explosive sex. She could feel their release against the denim of her jeans. If she had been wearing a skirt, she knew that it would have been actual sex between them. Distantly, she heard children laughing and remembered where they were. She pulled her mouth free from his, her legs falling from their place around his waist. She pushed him away even though she wanted to keep holding him against her. It felt right, being in his arms. But anyone could see them.

Spike felt her push him away, moved away from her, his eyes confused as he realized that he had just cum in his pants, like some silly boy. He looked at her, seeing her hair and the wet spot on her jeans, seeing the flushed face and the way that she wasn't looking at him, her lips torn from his bite, her shirt pushed up over her breast. Blimey, he'd been an animal. He'd taken her against a tree in a damn miniature golf course. He hadn't had enough control to move away from her. And damn it if he didn't want to do it again. This time without the clothes. He cursed, running a hand over his face as he realized that he had fucked up. He had intended to wait until after the auction, after she was in love with him, before making a damn fool of himself. "I'm a bastard. I'm sorry...I didn't mean..."

Willow swallowed as she looked at the ground, hurt by his words. He hadn't wanted her. She didn't understand what had happened, why he had done it, if he didn't want her. He was apologizing...he hadn't meant for it to happen. The most fantastic experience of her rather dismal sexual life and he hadn't meant it. She took a deep breath as her hand smoothed down her hair, "It's OK. We got carried away. Friends do that at times, I'm sure."

"I hurt you," he whispered, his hand moving to trace her torn lip. She moved her head away from his touch, not sure if she could act so brave and nonchalant if he touched her. He thought it was because she was disgusted at what had happened between them and pulled back, his eyes growing cold as he shut down. "It won't happen again."

"Spike," she sighed, not knowing what to say. I want you, I love you, I hate these damn jeans for getting in the way. What could she possibly say? She had no idea why he had done that, why he had just dry humped her against the tree. Feeling the wetness of her jeans, she realized that dry wasn't exactly the right word. She looked up, her eyes widening when she saw that he was gone. He had left her. She let out a shaky breath as she slid down the tree, sitting on her butt as she rested her head against her knees. She was so confused.

********************

"I am not wearing that," Xander said, shaking his head and glaring at Anya.

"I'm with Xander," Riley said, giving Buffy a look. "There is no way in hell I'm wearing that."

"Come on, honey. You'll look great," Buffy said, giving him her best smile.

"No," he said, shaking his head. "I didn't even agree to be in this damn auction. I'll do it, for you, but there are lines that I will not cross."

"I'm with Riley. I've gone to a gym, I've run miles, I've stopped eating Twinkies!" Xander said, looking at his lover, "But that's it. I'm sick of all of this. The bet? It's stupid. There is no surefire way of winning. Just because someone gets a higher bid? That could just mean a more wealthy woman wanted them. It doesn't mean a damn thing about whose better. Anyway, who cares? You're the only one I want. I don't need to win some stupid bet to know that I love you."

"Ditto," Riley said, looking at Buffy with a smile. "Honey, you've gone over the deep end. It's just a silly auction for charity. Neither Xander nor I will get the highest bid. We're both way too young for most of those women to be interested in anyway. Hell, I'm a college student and Xander is a carpenter. Doesn't really compare to CEO or lawyer, you know?"

"Have we been acting completely stupid?" Buffy asked, exchanging a look with Anya. "I'm sorry. I'm just so damn competitive."

"Same here," Anya said, moving into Xander's arms. "Forgive me?"

"Already forgiven. Just let it go," Xander urged.

"Promise. No more exercise. And I'll shut up about the bet too," Anya said, kissing him lightly.

"I don't even care if Spike does win," Buffy said, throwing caution to the wind as she hugged Riley.

"Are you feeling all right?" Riley asked with amusement, feeling her forehead. "Did you just say that you didn't care if Spike won a bet? As in, he could gloat forever and a day about besting you. And that doesn't bother you?"

"Compared to losing you?" she asked, shrugging, "What's forever and a day? Not like he won't always have something to gloat about anyway."

"Hey, who knows, one of us could still win," Xander said, smiling a goofy smile.

Before anyone could respond, the door opened and Willow walked in. She looked around, her eyes dazed and confused and sleepy. She saw Buffy and said, "Thank God you're here. I've been looking for you since this morning."

"Willow? Are you OK? You look like shit," Buffy said, getting to her feet as she moved across Xander's living room towards her friend.

"I don't know what to do," Willow whispered as she moved to hug her best friend, thankful to have someone to talk to.

********************

Buffy led Willow to the couch, smiling a thankful smile at Riley for moving to a chair. "What is it, honey? What's wrong?"

"Spike," Willow said, sniffling as she sat down and looked at her friends. She felt a bit embarrassed to be talking about this in front of Riley and Xander, but maybe they could add a guy's perspective.

"Ah, why doesn't that surprise me?" Anya said, shaking her head. "What's the fangless dunder done now?"

"Wait a minute. Spike? With Willow?" Xander asked, scowling when Anya glared at him and hissed for him to shut up. "Where the hell was I? Oh wait, I know. The gym!"

"Willow, you look like you haven't slept. Did something happen? Did he hurt you?" Buffy asked, trying to remember her stake was just in case.

"I didn't sleep last night," Willow said, running a hand over her face. "Goddess, I must look awful. I was up all night thinking and yelling and I don't know."

"You don't look awful," Anya said, wondering if lying to a friend was still a terrible offense as normal lying was.

"Yes, I do," Willow said, smiling a small smile. "It's just, I'm so confused. I don't know what to do anymore."

"What happened? You said it was Spike," Buffy said, trying to get enough details to try to help her best friend.

"He's ignoring me!" Willow said, realizing she was whining. "He has his door locked and when I tried to get his attention he turned his radio up. I've had to hear the damn Sex Pistols, the Ramones and the Clash all night and into today. He won't leave his room, he won't answer me when I call to him. We're supposed to do adventurous tonight but he won't leave his room."

"Confused here," Xander said, waving his hand. "His room?"

"Spike moved in with Willow last week. Actually, he was pretty much living there before that, but it was official last week," Buffy said, studying Willow. There was something the redhead wasn't telling them.

"He's living with her?! And no one felt it necessary to mention to me, her best friend?" Xander said, glaring at them all.

"Do you think that's smart? I mean, sure he's become part of the group, but living with Willow?" Riley asked, shaking his head.

"Oh shut up and quit being so protectively male," Anya said giving them both a look. "They want each other, let it be. Willow, honey, why is Spike ignoring you? What happened?"

Willow gulped as she looked at the floor, "I don't know. I really don't. We were out last night playing miniature golf and something happened that shouldn't have happened. He left and when I got home, he was hiding in his room. When I knocked, wanting to talk to him, he turned the damn music up. Friends are supposed to be able to talk about things, aren't they? Why is he shutting me out? It's not my fault what happened happened!"

"Spike playing miniature golf?" Buffy repeated, her lips twitching at the image. Oh yeah, he had it bad.

"Did he lose? Is that why he's mad?" Anya asked, beginning to get a headache. Willow was upset, which upset her, but she wasn't getting the answers that she wanted.

"We never finished the game!" Willow said, looking around. "See, he was really doing bad so I thought I'd help show him how to put. But, after he got the hole in one, he dropped his club and kissed me. It wasn't like the first kiss, the one that he doesn't remember, or the second which was pretty chaste and friendly, but he's ignoring this one like that first one and I don't know what to do. And when he was kissing me, their were hands everywhere and a tree and scrapes against my back that still hurt and thrusting, there was lots of thrusting, and kissing, we kissed the entire time, and then there was just explosive wow and weak knees and wet jeans and he bit my lip and that hurt but it was all so exciting and then I heard kids and pushed him away even though I didn't want to and he was adorable with this confused slightly startled look in his eyes and he tried to touch my lip where he had bitten me and he seemed upset that he had hurt me but I couldn't let touch me so I pulled back and his eyes changed and they became cold and he was so mean, telling me that he was sorry and that he hadn't meant it to happen and when I was trying to think of what to say, he left. I walked home and was still not able to think of any answers. When I got there, he was locked in his room and has been ever since."

All four friends looked at her with wide eyes, astonished first that she had managed to get all of that said without stopping to take a breath and secondly because they realized what had happened between her and Spike. Buffy was the first to recover, asking softly to clarify, "You and Spike um you know against a tree in the miniature golf course?"

"NO!" Willow said, her face flaming. "I mean, sort of but with clothes on."

"Why couldn't I have been at the gym today?" Xander asked no one in particular, trying to rid his mind of the image of his best friend getting shagged, with or without clothes, by Spike of all people against a tree in a public place.

"You pushed him away afterwards?" Riley asked, having actually been able to follow all of Willow's story.

"No," she said, shaking her head then frowning. "Oh Goddess, did I?"

"You said you did," Anya said softly, watching the redhead. "You said he was worried that he had hurt you, reached to touch your lip, then you pushed him away."

"Will, that's kind of harsh," Xander said quietly, giving her a wry smile. "The guy was concerned and you won't let him touch you."

"But, I didn't mean it like that," she protested, looking at Buffy. "Is it my fault? Did I do the wrong thing?"

"Honey, I don't know what to tell you. I've been telling you for weeks that he was interested but you claimed it was just a friendly thing. It sounds to me like he finally gave in and took what he wanted without thinking about it. I mean, Spike doesn't really seem the type to want to fuck in a place crawling with humans, you know?"

"Buffy's right. I think he finally got to the point where he couldn't resist it anymore and had to have you," Anya said with a sigh. "In a way, it's really romantic that he was unable to keep his control around you. For a vampire, control is everything. If you make him lose it, he's probably scared to death."

"Spike scared?" Willow repeated, shaking her head. "No, he said he was sorry. That he hadn't meant it to happen. That isn't scared."

"Will, he probably had some big ideas of seducing you and making it all dreamy. He seems to be the romantic type, for a vampire. I would guess that doing it up against a tree was not his ideal situation for the setting to his opening up to you about his wants or his feelings. I may not like him very much, but he's always been very devoted to those he loves," Buffy said.

"Do you know how embarrassing this is to sit here with you guys and explore my feelings for Spike?" Willow asked, smiling sheepishly as she realized the absurdity of the situation. "I cannot believe that I just told you that he and I almost had sex against a tree. I can't believe I actually said sex without blushing!"

They laughed, Anya saying, "Willow, if you can't tell us all the explicit details of your sex life, who can you tell?"

"Wait, no details. No explicit. Just stop at vague descriptions," Xander said, with a smile.

"Do you guys really think I messed it up?" Willow asked, sighing. "I'm just not used to this stuff. I don't know how to react after something like that. And he apologized and I let my self-esteem decide it was because he hadn't wanted me instead of thinking of other reasons he might apologize. And now I've ruined it all and we had two more dates before that stupid auction and now he's ignoring me and I don't know what to do."

"Dates?" Buffy asked, looking at Willow. "What does the auction have to do with it?"

********************

Willow looked guilty as she studied her hands, "I'm not going to bid on him. I can't. I don't know how he feels and I'm not brave enough to stand there in front of all those people and bid on someone that might hate me."

Anya's eyes widened as she said, "You were going to win him!"

"That sneaky little bastard," Buffy said, her eyes narrowing. "He set us up, didn't he? Arranged for you win him so he could win the bet?"

Willow nodded, looking at them with guilty eyes, "I'm sorry. I didn't want to. He just threatened to kill the winning bidder if I didn't agree to help him."

"When did he approach you with that plan?" Riley asked, a thoughtful look in his eyes.

"He was waiting for me that first night, right after you made the bet," Willow said, sighing. She'd done it now. He'd hate her for letting him lose the bet.

"He had it in mind before he made the bet, I'd wager," Anya said, almost smiling. Sneaky bastard was right. He'd used it as a ploy to get closer to Willow.

"He threatened you, you say?" Buffy asked, looking at Anya to try to keep from laughing. Trust Spike to court Willow in a way that was unique and entirely him. She couldn't believe she'd been so blind and not noticed it before. She could remember the guilty look on Willow's face whenever she and Anya discussed the auction and the way the redhead hated to discuss it.

"Yeah. Said he'd get someone to kill whoever won him if I didn't agree. And then he used my agreement to get my help with all these details about the auction. From his clothes to his application to his choice of dates."

"That carriage ride in the park!" Riley said, laughing softly. "He had it all planned, didn't he?"

"Anything to win," Willow said with a sigh.

"But what was he trying to win?" Buffy asked, studying the redhead.

"Don't tell him that you told us," Anya said, speaking up with a smile. "Let him think you're going to still bid on him. I mean, the auction is in a few days. Between now and then, let him have the confidence that his plan is going to work."

Buffy nodded, an idea taking shape, "Yeah, Anya's right. I'd rather not give him time to think of an alternate plan."

"I just don't get why he went to so much trouble. I mean, look at him and then look at me and Riley. It's not like he probably wouldn't have won anyway without Willow's bid," Xander said, shaking his head.

"I'm not saying that he'll win, but he'll do it without Willow's help," Buffy said. "Can you let him think that everything is still all right? Go through with the other two dates and what not?"

"Shouldn't be too difficult since he's ignoring me," Willow reminded. "Hell, he'll probably forget last night ever happened. He forgot the first kiss. He forgot the dressing room. Why not add almost sex to the list?"

"Dressing room?" Anya perked up, looking at the now blushing redhead. "Someone was holding out."

"We went to buy him clothes, he got all macho and possessive and I faked an orgasm loud enough for anyone listening outside to hear," Willow said in a rush. "That's it. Nothing more."

"I'm hearing way too many disturbing things today," Xander whined, covering his face.

"Seriously, Willow, will you be all right? You can stay at my house if you want," Buffy said, squeezing her best friend's hand.

"I'll be fine. It's just, I don't know what's going on. I mean, I heard you guys. I know you think he wants me and that it could actually be something. And I know it's probably annoying as hell dealing with me and my insecurities, but I just don't see how he could want me yet treat me like a friend."

"You want him yet you treat him like a friend," Anya pointed out.

"That's different. He's Spike. He has enough self confidence to supply most of the town," Willow said. "Either way, I'm just going to follow his example and ignore it. At least until after the auction. Then I can see if he was just using me to win that damn thing or if you guys might be right."

"Leave it to us, Wills. The auction will be over before you know it," Buffy said. "I just can't believe he was going to give you money to win him."

"Not money. His Gold card," Willow said as she sat there thinking. "Has a limit of like $25,000 or something. Didn't figure the bidding would go higher than that."

"Where the hell does he get that kind of credit limit?" Xander asked. "I mean, he's dead. How can he have a credit card?"

Willow smiled, "I asked that myself. Seems there are people that can fake birth certificates and social security numbers and such. I decided that I was probably better off not knowing the details. As for the money, he has interests in several different things and accounts set up as far back as his turning. Have no idea why he's always bumming money for Marlboros, but whatever."

"I'll walk you home," Buffy said as she saw Willow getting to her feet. "No arguments. You're tired and I don't like the idea of you wandering around Sunnydale with your mind caught up in your problems with Spike."

"I was going to say thanks," Willow said with a smile.

"Do you think he'll still be locked in his room?" Anya asked, getting to her feet and stretching.

Willow shook her head, "No way. I figure as soon as I left that he was out. He doesn't really like being closed up like that. Rather like trying to cage a tiger."

"I can see the resemblance," Buffy said with a laugh.

"Hey, wait. I'll come too. I could use a nice walk," Anya said, grabbing her jacket. "Honey, you can have some Twinkies."

"I think I'll just stay here and watch some TV," Riley said, kissing Buffy.

"We'll be back soon," Buffy said, holding the door open for Willow and Anya.

********************

When Willow arrived at her house, it was dark. She had been right. He had left as soon as he had been able to. What was worse was that her car was also gone. She had given him his means of escape. She sighed, looking at Buffy and Anya and smiling a small smile, "Thanks for walking me home. And thanks for listening to me ramble."

"No problem. We're used to hearing you ramble. At least today it was about something interesting," Anya said with a wink.

"Ignore her. Anything you say is interesting," Buffy said, laughing.

"Tonight was supposed to be our adventurous date. I have no idea what he had planned, but I'm sure it was real nice," Willow said, looking at the dark house again. "I can't believe one kiss ruined it. Well, one kiss that led into something else, but it started with that kiss. Now it's all gone. I don't even have his friendship anymore it seems. Ignoring me then leaving."

"Willow, stop it. You haven't lost anything. In fact, if you'd get your head out of your ass long enough to tell him how you really feel, you might just gain more than you can imagine," Buffy said, annoyed that her friend could be so smart about some things and so damn stupid about others.

"Thank you Ann Landers," Willow said before hugging Buffy then Anya. "You guys be careful walking back. I think I'll just head inside and crash. Maybe take a relaxing bath or something."

"We'll see you tomorrow. And Willow? It's going to be OK," Buffy said, smiling before she turned to walk away.

Willow sighed again before turning and going to her front door. She entered the dark house, shutting the door behind her as she walked to the wall that had the light switch. Her hand was reaching for it when she felt a hand cover her mouth. She felt someone behind her as a voice whispered in her ear, "You're late. We said eight."

Spike. She stopped struggling as she realized that he was doing it again. Ignoring everything that had happened between them the previous night to continue with this damn research. She felt the leather of his glove against her lips, his body pressed against hers, and she could think of nothing else except the night before. How could he forget it so easily?

"Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to accompany me on a date filled with adventure and intrigue. Nod if you accept," he said, fear in his eyes as he waited for her answers. He wouldn't blame her if she didn't knock him out and go upstairs, ignore him for what he had done to her the night before. He had spent all night and most of the day thinking back over it, dealing with the fact that he had lost control and become an animal. Well, not as much of an animal as he could have been, but close enough. He'd heard her trying to talk to him, but he hadn't known what to say. He'd risked their friendship because of his lust. He hated himself for that.

Willow wasn't sure what to do. He wanted to go on like nothing happened, but she couldn't do that. She'd been forced into realizing that she was in love with him, that she needed him in her life. Because of that, though, she couldn't lose his friendship, couldn't lose him. The last twenty-four hours had been horrible without him. No being able to share her life with him, to not see his face or hear his voice, to not hear him laugh. She could not survive another day without him. She knew he waiting for an answer, wondered what he had planned for a date of adventure and intrigue. Curiosity killed the cat, she thought as she slowly nodded her head.

********************

Willow sat in the passenger seat, trying not to sneak glances at Spike and failing miserably. They had been driving for nearly half an hour, and she had no idea where they were going. They had headed south on the freeway and were headed towards LA. Somehow, she didn't think that could be their destination but with Spike, who knew? He'd startled her in her living room, covering her mouth and asking her to accept this mission. She had with a nod of her head. He had moved his hand, telling her to run upstairs and pack a bag, that they wouldn't be back until the next night. She had called Buffy's machine leaving a message that she knew was breathless and vague. She hadn't known what to tell her best friend. She also hadn't known what to pack. What did one pack for a date of adventure? She had decided on jeans and a T-shirt, a good standby. She had luckily remembered to pack her sleeping tank and boxers and tossed in extra panties and a bra for the morning. When she had gone back downstairs, Spike had the car in the driveway and was waiting for her. They hadn't spoken, just got in and started driving.

She saw him turn the blinker on as he moved from the left lane to the right. She sat up, her eyes seeing an exit sign ahead. Seashell. Some small coastal town that she'd never been to. She sat back, wondering what adventures Seashell held. She looked back at Spike and caught him looking at her. They both looked away quickly, Spike watching the road while Willow looked out the window. She watched as he turned down several different streets, obviously knowing exactly where they were headed. She saw lights in the distance and was surprised to see them coming upon a rather large mansion. The car continued down the twisting road until it entered a pair of metal gates and a driveway. She couldn't resist any longer. She asked, "Where are we?"

"Our adventure," he replied with a teasing smile. He was trying to get her to talk to him again, like they had before last night. He missed her smile and her laugh. He shouldn't have to suffer so much for making one mistake. Kissing her and its aftermath hadn't been a mistake really, it was him losing control that he hated. Once he had her, had claimed her, then it wouldn't so concerning. Now, though, he couldn't risk scaring her away before he had her. "Are you ready, pet?"

"Should I be worried?" she asked, trying to forget last night as easily as he had appeared to. She looked at the large house as the car stopped and smiled, having no idea where they were or what they were doing there.

"Not at all. I know the bloke that owns this place. He was able to fit us in when I phoned the other night. Owed me a favor or two," Spike said, opening the car door and getting out. He stretched, glad that Maurice had come through for him. Seashell was a small town of less than fifty that lay in between Sunnydale and LA. Trust his old friend to settle somewhere so overlooked.

"What is this place? Fit us in?" Willow asked as she got out of the car and followed Spike to the trunk to retrieve her bag. Before he could answer the question, the door to the house opened and a man came out.

"William! You've made it. You naughty boy. I expected you at half past eight, not nearly half past nine," Maurice said with a scolding finger. He looked at Willow and his smile grew larger, "And who, pray tell, is this delightfully sinful spitfire?"

"Willow, meet Maurice. Maurice, Willow," Spike said, rolling his eyes at the demon's antics.

"Enchante mademoiselle," Maurice said, taking her hand and kissing it.

Willow had to laugh. She was standing in the driveway of a large house with a vampire that she loved behind her and a six-foot demon kissing her hand. She ran her eyes over Maurice, noticing the normalcy of his appearance except for the two horns on either side of his forehead and the ridges that ran over his hands and up his arms. His eyes were purple and shining with amusement and good will. Not at all what she had expected when she had heard Spike mention friend.

Maurice saw her humor and confusion and understood, whispering in a loud voice, "I'm the only nice friend that scamp has."

"You read minds, do you?" Willow asked, teasing.

"Your eyes are mirrors to your thoughts, my dear," he said confidentially.

"Are they?" she asked, curious.

"Only to those trained to read them," he elaborated, looking at Spike. "Spike, my boy, I like this one. I think you should keep her."

"I'll take that under advisement," Spike muttered, his eyes glaring at the still joined hands. "You can let her go now."

"Someone's a growly bear," Maurice said releasing Willow's hand.

Willow giggled, "He's always a bit growly. You get used to it after a while."

"You, my dear, are charming and far too good for that rascal. Come. Let me show you my home. Let Spike carry the bags in. He's had the grand tour," Maurice said, looking at Spike as the blonde growled a warning. "Don't get your willy in a knot. I have no plans of luring her into seeing my etchings or any other naughty business. Not yet, at least. I've put you in your usual room."

Willow felt the ridged arm go around her shoulders as Maurice led her into the large house. She smiled when she heard Spike cursing behind them, looking up and seeing Maurice's violet eyes twinkling in amusement. He knew exactly what he was doing to the blonde and enjoyed it. Laughing, she decided that she and Maurice were going to get along extremely well.

********************

"The house is fantastic, Ricey," Willow said, smiling as she and the demon finished the tour in the large living area downstairs. It had taken nearly an hour to see every room, and she wasn't sure she had seen them all.

"Ricey?" Spike said, speaking up from his position on the couch. "Can I toss my cookies here?"

"Ah, Spike seems jealous that I've allowed you to use my nickname," Maurice said, smiling.

"I'm not jealous," Spike denied, glaring at the demon. "Up to you if you want to be called after a peanut butter cup."

"That's Reeses," Willow pointed out as she moved to sit down. She wasn't sure exactly what the adventure was unless it was taking the tour of the mansion, but she was enjoying herself. Maurice provided the perfect companion and allowed her to forget her problems with Spike. "And it is better than being called after an instrument of torture, don't you think?"

"You're treading, luv," he warned with a false smile as he took another drink of his scotch. He looked at Maurice, eyes narrowing at the knowing look in his friend's eyes. "Is it arranged? I've got a date I'm supposed to be on."

"Is what arranged?" Willow asked looking between the two men.

"The date," Spike said, looking at her. "Surely you didn't think it was meeting Maurice. While I admit that can be an adventure upon itself, I had something a bit more interesting in mind."

"I must confess that I'm absolutely giddy," Maurice said with a smile. "I've never been able to talk Spike into playing before, not his cup of tea according to him. Until you. I almost fainted when he phoned asking me for details. I've made it very adventurous for you both."

"Playing?" Willow said, feeling very much like a parrot in this conversation.

"You didn't tell her?" Maurice looked at Spike and clucked his tongue.

"I wanted it to be a surprise," Spike said with an easy smile.

"Bad boy," Maurice said, shaking his head. "Come along, Willow love. I'll show you and explain everything."

Spike stood and took Willow's hand, ignoring the tightening in his body from the casual contact. He could do this. He was strong. He was strong. He was strong. He saw her lick her lips and groaned. He was a pathetic weak fool for love. "Let's see what he has to say."

********************

Willow followed Maurice through the downstairs, going in a direction that he had not taken her on the tour. Spike still held her hand, his brushing against her palm in lazy circles that were not doing healthy things to her body. Well, actually, they were probably very healthy just not smart. She brought her attention back to Maurice and tried to ignore Spike's hand holding hers. "This house is really big."

"Isn't it?" Maurice said with a smile. "I had it designed and built decades ago. It's actually much bigger than it appears to the untrained eye. Magic is a glorious thing when used properly."

Spike snorted, "Yeah like when adding a third floor to a two story house?"

"To each his own," Maurice said with a narrowed look.

"It's an amazing house," Willow said, glaring at Spike for upsetting Maurice.

"What did I do?" Spike asked, frowning at his redhead.

"Here we are," Maurice said, standing before two large double doors. He looked at them both and said, "By passing over this threshold you are agreeing to play the game. If you have any doubts, speak now. I cannot stop the game once it has begun."

"What game?" Willow asked, feeling a bit of fear at his ominous tone.

"My game," Maurice said with a wink when he saw that she was scared. "Don't worry, Willow. It isn't life threatening or any of that nonsense. Just a fun game to play."

"What do we have to do?" Willow asked, trusting Maurice.

"You have to make it to the other side," he said with a cryptic smile.

"Bloody hell, just open the damn door. We haven't got all night," Spike said.

"That's where you are wrong, dear friend, but I fear I've said enough. Is that decision for both of you?" Maurice asked, looking at Willow.

She nodded, "I wanted an adventure."

Maurice smiled as the doors opened behind him.

********************

Willow entered the room behind Maurice and gasped, her eyes wide as she looked around. They were outside, the moon high above. In front of her were rows and rows of tall hedges. She couldn't see the other side. "Jesus."

"Wonderful, isn't it?" Maurice said, proud of his creation. "It's my labyrinth, my maze. I add little more every few months. It's massive, I know, but it was created by magic and is well hidden from prying eyes."

"We have to get through that to win?" Spike asked, making a face. He'd had no idea the maze was quite so elaborate. He had assumed that it would be a nice little adventure for Willow but it looked like an impossible game.

"It's actually not that difficult," Maurice said, stressing the word that. "Of course, I have set up obstacles to overcome along with finding the correct path, but none are dangerous. It will take the two of you working together to succeed, so push aside any differences that may exist between the two of you."

"Differences?" Willow said, wondering if secret love and a desire to jump Spike's bones would constitute a difference.

"We're friends, mate. No differences at all," Spike said, wishing he could be so certain. After last night, he no longer truly believed his own words.

"It's nearly midnight," Willow said, looking at her watch. "How long does it usually take to make it through the maze?"

"The quickest has been twelve hours," Maurice said, thinking back. "The longest several days."

"Fuck, I can't be out here past dawn," Spike said, scowling.

"I have thought of that," Maurice said. "Many of my clients have the same 'sun problem' as you. Hence the dome."

Willow looked and was able to see the dome he was speaking about, "It keeps the sunlight out?"

"No. The light can come in, but the rays are reflected. There shall be sunlight in the morning, but no poofy mess of dust for our friend here," Maurice said with a smile.

"You mean, I'll be able to be in the sun and not be at risk?" Spike asked, his eyes widening as he imagined being able to make love with Willow in the sunlight, even one time. Cock hardening at the idea, he moved closer to the maze. "When do we start?"

"I've yet to lose one of my clients over the past fifty years so I'm pretty certain that the dome works. With the aid of magic, anything is possible, no?" Maurice said, winking at a stunned Willow.

"He'll be able to be in the sun?" Willow asked softly, wondering what he looked like bathed in the sun's rays. Buffy had fought him in the sun, but hadn't paid any attention to the details of his appearance. Willow smiled, knowing how excited he must be for this chance. She looked at Maurice and repeated Spike's question, "When do we start?"

"The entrance is there. Remember that you must both stay together to complete the game successfully. Other than that, enjoy your adventure," Maurice said, smiling as they both started to move towards the entrance. He waited until they had entered before turning and going back into the house.

********************

Willow looked around and smiled, seeing the touches of Maurice everywhere. Though the outside of the maze was tall hedges, the inside was a gardener's dream come true. Dozens upon dozens of flowers were everywhere. Their perfume pleasant but not overpowering. A river was running along as far as she could see, the gentle sound calming. Even in the moonlight, it was beautiful. She looked at Spike and saw him looking around just as she had been.

"It looks like Better Homes and Gardens puked," he remarked casually, looking at all the flowers and frilly chairs and such. "Ooomph," he cried out as she smacked him hard. "What? It's the truth."

"It's lovely," she said, moving towards the river. She bent down, her hand feeling the cold water as she sighed. "I can't wait to see it in the sun. I bet it's amazing."

"Sun. I can't believe he's got this thing vampsafe," Spike said with a laugh. "No one it's such a favorite game amongst my kind."

"We need to get a plan," Willow said suddenly, looking up at him. "It's past midnight. That means the auction is tomorrow night. We have to make it through the maze by tonight so we have time to drive back to Sunnydale so you can be at the auction. Any ideas of how to make it through here pretty fast?"

"I've never been in it, luv. How do I know?" Spike asked, frowning at the mention of the auction. Couldn't she see how excited he was at the idea of being in the sun? Didn't she know that one of his favorite fantasies had been to make love to her in the sunlight? That he was now going to see that fantasy realized? He had planned on waiting to claim her until after the auction, but that plan had been tossed out the window as soon as Maurice had said he could be in the sun. He wanted to see her face bathed in the sun's rays as she came, commit that image to memory for their future together.

"He's right, you know," she mentioned off handedly as she began to walk. "You are such a growly bear."

"I am not a damn growly bear!" he protested, moving to catch up to her. "Do you know where you're going?"

"Not a clue," she said looking at him and smiling.

He smiled back, taking her hand casually as they walked, "So, we've got about twenty-four hours to make it through this maze. That gives us time to make it back to Sunnydale before that silly auction."

"He did say the record was twelve hours," Willow reminded with a smile.

"Sorry, luv. No beating records for me. I want to enjoy the sun as long as I can. Now, finishing it after dusk is fine by me. We could stop for some dinner on the way home, maybe watch some telly before going to bed. A nice restful evening before the auction from hell," he said.

Willow decided to ignore the tingles that his use of home and going to bed ignited in her. He thought of her house as home. She smiled shyly, deciding that they would indeed finish this game right after dusk. He'd promised her dinner and cartoons. What more could she want? Well, actually, no. Bad Willow. She was not going there. No, no, no. Instead, she said, "I think we'd be best following the river. It looks like it is flowing east to west so it might lead us to the exit."

"River? Sure, sounds fine," he said, studying her slyly as he wondered what thoughts had caused her heartbeat to speed up and slow scent of her arousal. It was more fragrant than any of Maurice's silly flowers ever could imagine being.

"Good, that's settled," she said, covering a yawn as they began to walk.

********************

Willow felt something tickling her nose. She reached up and swatted at it as she snuggled closer to her blanket. She heard a soft chuckle and frowned in her sleep. Slowly, she opened one eye then closed it again as heat rushed over her face. She was laying against Spike. It hadn't been a blanket she had been snuggling against, instead finding a too handsome vampire smiling at her.

"Wil-low, I know you're awake," he teased, trying not to let her know how his body was affected by her closeness.

"Am not. Still sleeping," she mumbled, wondering what had possessed her to fall asleep around him. Oh, that's right, the maze. They had walked for hours and upon hours, finding Maurice's clever obstacles, a shaky bridge, a large wall, a grove of thorny bushes. After all of that, she had been exhausted. No sleep the previous night coupled with the work out she was getting in the maze had kicked in. She'd barely been able to stand up straight, much less walk. That's when she had given in to the inviting green grass that looked oh so comfortable. She'd been asleep as soon as her head touched the ground. It appeared that Spike had decided to take a nap too, plastered against her.

"Did you know that you talk in your sleep?" he asked in a conversational tone as he played with a strand of her hair. He brushed it against her nose again, watching it wriggle as she tried to get it off.

"Do not," she denied, still keeping her eyes closed. She was still tired, even after sleeping, and he was much too handsome and alert. It wasn't fair.

"Do too," he said, brushing his knuckles over her cheek. They almost finished the maze before dawn. He wasn't sure how he knew, but he knew they were close to the exit. That was why he had let her sleep. And she'd looked so cute in sleep that he hadn't been able to resist crawling beside her and holding her. When he had woken up, the sun had been shining. Even now, he could feel its warmth on his body.

"What did I say?" she asked, curious even though she knew he had to be lying.

"Nothing much," he answered coyly, his eyes on her face. She didn't have to know that she had said his name and I love you and a few other telling things. It appeared that Willow did not have purely friendly thoughts about him, praise the heavens.

"Spike," she warned, turning her head slightly and opening her eyes. She was surprised to see his eyes looking at her with such sweet emotion. His fingers continued to brush her cheek as he merely smiled. She suddenly noticed the light and looked up, seeing the sun. It was daytime. Looking back at him, she let her eyes move over his face, seeing just how handsome he could be in the sunlight. Still as handsome as usual but the sun did something to his hair, made him seem different even though he really wasn't. "You're beautiful," she whispered softly, not realizing she had spoken her thoughts out loud.

"I've always imagined you like this," he said quietly, his eyes softening as he studied her.

"Like how?" she asked breathlessly, mesmerized by his eyes and his gentle touch.

"In my arms with your face bathed in the rays of the sun," he answered huskily, watching her eyes widen at his confession. "You're more beautiful than I could ever imagine. Your hair is like fire."

"You've...you've thought about me?" she asked, not able to move.

"So many times," he admitted. "You have no idea how often."

"I never would have guessed," she said softly, wondering why he was telling her this.

"I keep my secrets, pet," he said with a sheepish smile. "That night, at the golf course, I'm sorry. I was an animal, I hurt you. I never wanted to hurt you."

"Spike, forget it," she said, hating the look of self-loathing that entered his eyes, taking away the love. "I wanted it....have for so very long."

"You pushed me away...wouldn't let me touch you," he reminded with a frown.

"Because of the children," she said, laughing. "It was never because of you. Spike, we were in a miniature golf course. There were people everywhere."

"Was that it?" he asked, looking at her with surprise. "You didn't want them to see you?"

"Hello. I'm the shy one," she said, smiling. "Did you really think that I was disgusted? Spike, that was the most exciting thing that I've ever done. I felt things that I've never felt. I mean, never felt. It was amazing and then you were gone."

"Guess we both messed that one up didn't we?" he said sheepishly.

"That's an understatement," she said, her eyes still on his. "How long?"

"I don't know," he said, before smiling, "March 23."

"You know the exact date?" she asked, astonished.

"Yep," he nodded, his thumb brushing against her lips. "See, I think I first started to fall back when I kidnapped you. Got a bit deeper when I tried to turn you. But, March 23 was my epiphany so to speak."

"Why?" she asked.

"You were wearing an orange shirt with some design on the front and this flowing skirt with flowers on it. We were researching something at the watcher's place and everyone was cranky. Don't remember why. But then you came in and smiled. I remember that smile for some reason," he said, tracing an outline along her lips where the smile had been. "After you got there, everything was different. The tension faded and they were soon laughing. That's when I realized that I had never really given you credit. You'd always been the slayer's shadow, the one that helped out and messed up spells and such. That day I realized that you were the glue holding them all together. Without you, it was dismal and horrid. Once you arrived, the sun shined so to speak. They may not realize it, but I did. And then you looked at me and smiled, smiled for me and my heart stopped. That's when I realized that my feelings for you were far deeper than I would have guessed. I wanted to see that smile all the time, not just on those random research sessions."

"You hid it well," she said softly, blinking back tears at the emotion clouding his voice. "I thought you hated me, and then I thought you were just lonely and needed a friend. I never thought you actually wanted me."

"Oh, I do, pet. So very much," he whispered as he waited, needing to hear the words spoken.

"I couldn't forget you after that night you kidnapped me," she confessed softly. "And then, that night in my dorm, I was close to killing myself over Oz and everything. You made me face up to my demons and realize that I didn't want to die. I liked life too much. You were the only one that cared. We kept you chained up and still you cared that I was unhappy. That's when I realized that there was more to you than I had allowed myself to believe. I'm sorry, I don't have a particular day to name nor do I recall what you were wearing, but I'd hazard a guess that it was black jeans and a black T-shirt with the leather duster. I just know that one night you came into the shop and I realized that the excitement I was feeling was because you were there. It hit me hard and I couldn't think of a time that I didn't have the feelings for you."

He smiled, moving his finger to her hair again as he said, "So I knew before you."

"Does that matter?" she asked, moving her head against his hand. "Is this another dream, Spike? I've had so many like this I can't help fearing that this is another."

"It's not a dream, luv," he assured her. "You're really here, in the sunlight, in my arms. And I'm really about to kiss you and then slowly make love with you."

"You are?" she whispered, a smile spreading over her face as he leaned his head down and brushed his lips against hers. Sighing, she said, "You are," before returning his kiss.

********************
Willow felt Spike's lips moving over her cheeks. The sun was beaming down on them, providing a warmth that countered the coolness of his touch on her face. She knew she wasn't dreaming. She could feel the small rocks digging into her back as she lay on the ground. The softness of the grass tickled her bare legs, her head laying on his arm. She could hear the water from the river that flowed beside them, the gentle sound soothing her nerves. She closed her eyes, blocking out everything except the feel of his lips on her, his hands on her, his body against hers.

Spike caught her lips again as his hand moved down her neck. He traced a spot near her collarbone, knowing that by the time they were finished, his mark would rest there for all to see. He smiled when she moved against him, arching up and pressing her breasts against his chest. How had he been so blind? How had he not seen her feelings for him? Too caught up in denial of his own for her, he guessed. He removed his arm from under her head, being careful as he laid her against the soft grass. He pulled away, his eyes running over her face, seeing the slight flush in her cheeks, the half opened lips dragging in breath, the eyes that were opening, looking at him with so much love and passion that it frightened him. He froze, not wanting to move, to spoil the beauty of the moment. He knew it was pathetic, a vampire wanting nothing more than to simply look at a human, but he wanted to do nothing else for eternity. To wake up with her in his arms, to go to sleep with her face the last thing he would see. Pathetic, maybe, but he couldn't change it. Wouldn't change it. She was his.

Willow was caught by the flickering emotions in Spike's eyes. He was still, leaning above her just looking at her. She would have felt embarrassed at the attention if she hadn't been caught up in the moment. She smiled softly, moving her hand up to brush his cheek. She let her fingers trace his face, moving along the scar on his eyebrow and around to the back of his head. She could feel his hair, so soft despite the many decades of bleaching. She wanted him so badly. Had dreamed of this for so long that she could barely remember a time that she hadn't wanted him. She could feel his body laying against hers, his leg resting in between her own. She moved her leg slightly, feeling the evidence of his desire pressed against her, her eyes widening at the prominent bulge. She licked her lips, their eyes still caught in a strange silent communication. She saw him look down at their bodies resting against each other then look back at her, the question in his blue eyes startling her. She understood finally. This wasn't about today, about making love in the sun and enjoying each other for a few hours. This was about forever.

Spike watched her face, wondering if she had any idea how easy it was to read her eyes. He saw realization then worry then fear then slowly acceptance and love. She loved him. He would have jumped up and yelled it to the world had he not been more intent on removing her clothes and claiming her. Yelling could wait. After they left here, then he'd worry about letting everyone they met know that she loved him. His perfect redhead Goddess loved him. He felt his lips curving into a smile, the possessive, sensual smile that promised so many things. She smiled back, a gentle, uncertain smile that just begged for his lips. He leaned down, catching her lips in a deep, claiming kiss that left no doubt that there would be more to come.

********************

Spike deftly unbuttoned Willow's shirt as he made love to her mouth. Their tongues tangled as her fingers gripped his head. She pulled him closer, her free hand moving to help him remove her shirt. She could feel the warmth of the sun as his cool fingers danced along her skin. She whimpered when he pushed her hand away, smacking it lightly in warning before moving back to finish unfastening her shirt. She heard him chuckle as they kissed, obviously amused at her impatience. She felt him move away, their mouths finally coming apart as he sat up slightly, his blue eyes blazing their way over her chest, now covered in a scrap of white lace. Her shirt lay open on either side, her breasts heaving in a way she had never imagined possible as she breathed. She felt like one of those women on the covers of a romance. All she needed was a period dress, she already had the heaving bosoms, and Spike behind her with his arm possessively around her waist, dressed in pirate fashion or maybe wearing the clothes of an outlaw. No, definitely pirate. Shirt unbuttoned to the waist showing off his smooth, muscular chest she decided. She watched him with desire filled eyes as he pulled his T-shirt over his head, wetting suddenly dry lips when she found herself confronted with the very thing she had been thinking about.

Goddess, he was beautiful. She knew that was a strange word to use to describe a man, but Spike was no ordinary man. True, he was handsome and gorgeous and sexy, but they didn't do justice to his pure beauty. She knew that many would find Angel better looking, the dark good looks and large muscular body. She didn't. There was something about Spike that just almost hypnotized her. He was so graceful, his body often moving like a large jungle cat stalking its prey. His face was an artist's fantasy, each line bold yet smooth. From the scar to his cheekbones to his full lips. It all went together to create this one beautiful creature, this demon that she had fallen in love with.

Her eyes moved over his chest, down his flat stomach and along the trail of light brown hair that disappeared into the top of his jeans. She cursed the denim softly, wanting to see more. She could make out a faint scar on his side and another on his ribcage, just under his left breast. Other than those, he could have been sculpted from marble. She sat up slightly, moving closer to him as she pushed her shirt down her arms. Her hair brushed against his bare shoulder as she lay the shirt down underneath her, falling back when he growled softly, his lips claiming hers as she landed on the cotton of her shirt. His large hand moved over her chest, avoiding her breasts and resting on her stomach. She groaned, needing to feel his hands on her aching breasts. Her nipples were hard pebbles, pushing against the lace of her bra. She felt his fingers moving along her skin, drawing teasing circles as he kissed her, his cool skin was against her, making her even more hot and tense.

Willow felt him finally touch her breast, lightly, teasing. She moved her free hand to rest it on top of his, moving them both to her breast and squeezing. She cried out in pleasure at the feeling, her nipple pressed against his palm, his fingernails brushing past the lacey cup and digging ever so slightly into her skin. She wanted the bra out of the way. She wanted to feel her bare breasts pressed against him, to have him cool her as the warm rays of the sun heated her. She felt a trickle of sweat on her forehead, ignoring it as his lips moved along her chin. Her head fell back as he began to suck the flesh of her neck into his mouth. His teeth ran over her skin lightly, not biting just teasing. She spread her legs wider as she felt a burning between her legs. She could feel her panties sticking against her, her juices beginning to soak through the white cotton. Why had she worn her plainest white underwear? Her first time with Spike and she'd remember the white cotton and lace garments. How could he find her sexy in something that plain? She should have worn the green silk that Buffy had persuaded her to buy not a week ago. That would have made an impression on him.

Willow felt him move his leg, his hands leaving her breasts and going to the button of her jeans. Well, they had been jeans when they had started their adventure the night before. Sometime during the endless climbing and walking, she had used his knife to rip the legs off and turn them into a nice, comfortable pair of shorts. She felt his knuckles against her stomach as he unbuttoned the button, felt them brush against her lower as he unfastened the zipper, felt a finger tease the edge of her panties as he shifted again to remove the denim shorts. She lifted her hips to help him get them off, realizing that she was now laying in front of him in nothing but those damn white cotton undergarments.

Her arousal was overwhelming, the scent thick and intoxicating. He tossed her shorts to the side, his eyes moving over her long legs and over the juncture between her thighs. He could see the darkness of her red curls against the white cotton, could see her juices soaking through the material. Spike resisted the urge to just take what he wanted, to sink between her legs and rut like some wild animal. But he wasn't an animal. He wanted this to be perfect for her, to be something that she would never forget during their eternity together. Instead, he laid back down beside her, keeping his jeans on. He knew he'd lose it as soon as he removed them. He moved his leg between her legs as he leaned down and ran his tongue over the mark he had made on her neck. Her skin was pink from the sucking he had done, a feeling of satisfaction spreading over him as he saw his mark on her. Again he fought for control. They had all day, no need to rush things. Besides, he still had some seducing to do.

********************

Willow reached for Spike's duster, wadding it up and placing it under her head much like a pillow. She felt him swat her stomach as he warned, "Quit moving," in a husky voice that almost caused her to freeze. Instead, she wriggled a little bit more to prove to him that he wasn't the boss of her and to get a small rock out from under her left butt cheek. It had been digging into her almost from the start and, without the thick denim of her shorts, she felt it even more. She heard him growl playfully and looked into his blue eyes, smiling as she wriggled again and then said, "There. Much more comfortable. Carry on."

"Cheeky brat," he said, rolling his eyes before a wicked smile crossed his face. He leaned over, running his tongue over her right nipple through the lacey cup of her bra. He heard her catch her breath as his wet tongue made contact, could hear her heartbeat start to race. Smiling, he lazily moved his tongue over her breast, sucking the material of her bra into his mouth, tearing it just a little with his teeth, then licking her nipple again before doing the same thing. When that breast was coated with his saliva, he moved to the other one, keeping her bra firmly in place.

"Spike," she begged, arching against him wantonly. She cried out when she felt his upper thigh move against her panties. The heavy denim brushed against her clit as he continued to lazily tease her. "Please."

"Please what, luv?" he asked with a raised brow, taking her nipple between his blunt teeth and running his tongue over the lace covered pebble.

"Anything, everything," she babbled, her left leg moving around his denim clad one as she rubbed herself against it. "Just please....no more teasing."

"But teasing is half the fun, pet," he objected with a smile. He moved his head up to her ear, whispering, "Who's got the power, luv?"

"You do," she whispered, moving her body up against his.

"Never forget that, Willow," he said, his eyes catching hers as he smiled an easy smile. "You're mine, aren't you, luv?"

"Yes," she said softly, knowing it was true. She was his forever.

"Good girl," he said huskily, moving his leg against her as he watched her eyes flutter. He moved his hand over her wet bra, grabbing it in the middle and pulling hard. He heard the material ripping as she gasped, arching against his leg at the action. Tossing the white cotton to the side, he leaned over and caught her nipple with his mouth, no material separating them this time. He felt her hands in his hair as she held him against her, her hips rocking against his leg as he sucked on her nipple. He moved his left hand behind her, cupping the soft swell of her ass as he pulled her up against his leg. He moved their bodies until she was rubbing directly against his erection with every thrust up. This time, though, he would not find release in his pants like some silly schoolboy. He would have enough control to wait. That didn't mean she had to wait though. He moved his hand along her ass, a finger dipping between her cheeks, pulling her panties tighter against her front. He heard her cry out as they pulled against her clit, the wet material moving between her lower lips as he pulled on it. He released her breast when he heard her soft moans, her deep gasps for breath as she moved against him. He heard her low cry of release as she shattered around him, her head going back against his duster as she screamed out his name, her juices running down her thighs, wet against his jeans as she dazedly looked at the sun overhead.

********************

Willow couldn't believe that the second time she had had an orgasm because of Spike had also been against his leg. What was it about him that made her forget who and where she was? She looked down at him, saw him watching her with the most tender expression on his handsome face, and understood. She didn't care who or what she was as along as he loved her. His opinion and her own were all that mattered. She drew her bottom lip into her mouth as she waited, wondering if he'd simply get up and leave her this time or if there was more to come. Her question was answered when his head lowered and his tongue ran along her belly button. She felt his tongue enter her belly button as he moved his leg from between her thighs. He moved his position, his bare chest pushing against her wet panties and then moving lower, nothing actually making contact with her wetness.

Spike licked his way down her stomach, loving the taste of skin, a unique flavor of Willow mixed with sweat from her release. He reached the top of her panties, pausing as he rested his forehead against her lower stomach. He could feel his own saliva against his skin, wondering what it was about her that made him want to taste and touch every inch. He had been licking her all afternoon it seemed. And, while it was true that most of his kind did have a bit of a biting fetish, he'd never heard of a licking one. Acting like some silly pup, marking his territory. Instead of making him angry, it made him smile. Anyone that ran across her would sense his claim, his scent and smell covering her already and they'd barely gotten started. He'd chalk this peculiarity up to some deep-rooted vampire need that he'd been unaware of before. Hell, he wouldn't give it any more thought, he decided. There was still more of her to taste, he thought with a wicked grin.

He sat up, kneeling between her legs, catching her eyes watching him. His hand went to the button of his jeans, unfastening it without breaking eye contact. He stood, his eyes still watching her. He was hard and throbbing, pressing against the denim until he was certain he would break through it. Deciding that he had didn't want to face Maurice with a torn pair of jeans, he needed to relieve a bit of pressure. He chuckled as her eyes kept drifting lower, her lip between her teeth as she waited for him to unfasten his jeans. Wanton little hussy, he thought with a primal smile. His took his time, teasing her a bit more as he struggled not to give in to his demon's coaxing, seductive whispers of claiming her over and over until she was hoarse from screaming his name. Oh, that part was coming for sure, but not yet. He slid the zipper down, hissing softly as his cock was freed from the confines of the tight pants.

Willow heard a soft gasp and knew it was her own. She found herself sitting up as he slid the jeans down over his slim hips, her eyes focused on the large cock jutting from between his thighs. He wasn't grotesquely large, but, to her eyes that had only seen Oz's rather small manhood, Spike was enormous. He was also aroused and ready. The swollen tip of his cock wet from pre-cum, the veins practically throbbing in front of her. She raised her hand, moving her fingers along his shaft, listening as he moaned at her touch. He was cold and hard, reminding her of her comparison earlier to marble. But he wasn't stone, he was flesh and blood. His body wasn't as cold as she had once imagined, warmed slightly from the sun overhead and maybe from the intensity of everything happening between them.

She ran her fingers over him, watching him move against her warm hand. She smiled, having never really done anything like this before. With Oz, it had always been straight sex. To have been in a band, he was rather boring in his ideas of sex. Of course, maybe it had been her. Maybe she'd given off some signal of not wanting to do anything daring and he'd simply acknowledged it. With Spike, she couldn't think of a single thing she didn't want to do. She looked up at him from beneath her lashed, asking huskily, "May I taste you?"

"Bloody hell," he cursed softly, hearing her question and feeling his cock move towards her lips. He'd wanted this to be about her, not him. He opened his mouth to object, to tell her that he wanted to taste her, to tell her to lay back down and quit stroking him that way or he'd cum too soon. Instead, he whispered, "Please."

She smiled at that, knowing that Spike didn't often say that word. She looked back at his cock, deciding that it had to be nearly eight inches at least. She giggled softly as she imagined measuring it with her ruler when they were back home. That would make for an interesting experiment, she decided. She licked her lips, not really sure what she was supposed to do, but wanting to bring him the same pleasure he had just given her. She leaned forward slightly, running her tongue the tip. She tasted something that was both salty and sweet, wondering idly if vampires tasted the same as humans and deciding she didn't really care enough to test it. She moved her small hand around his width, noticing that he was wider than Oz had been. Her fingers didn't quite touch as they encircled him. She began to move her hand much in the way she had seen in movies.

She moved her knees, pushing a sharp rock out of the way as she rested her panty-clad butt on her heels. Her bare breasts swung as she leaned forward, opening her mouth and taking the tip of him inside. She pulled her mouth back, opening and closing her mouth several times as she tried to determine if he would fit inside. During her logical thoughts, her hand continued to stroke him, from tip back to the nest of light brown curls. She began to move her hand slightly with each downward movement, twisting it just a little. She heard him hiss and smiled as she figured she must have done something right. With a determined look in her eyes, she opened her mouth and began to take him slowly inside. She made several efforts, finally adjusting to a comfortable position that allowed him inside without causing her to gag. She began to move her head, her tongue running over his length with each movement. She felt his fingers tangle themselves in her hair as he moaned above her.

She was only able to take a little more than half of his cock inside her mouth. She was sure that with time, she might be able to eventually get more, but this wasn't the time for practice. Her left hand moved up to cup his balls, squeezing lightly on the twin sacs as her fingernails brushed against the tender flesh. She heard him growl above her, smiling around his cock as she listened to his sounds. He was usually so in control, never letting her see who he really was. Now, at her mercy, he couldn't hide. She loved every single moan and growl and hiss and sigh, knowing that she had caused them. It gave her a feeling of satisfaction that she'd never felt before.

She felt him begin to move slightly, his hips thrusting forwards to meet her bobbing mouth. For a moment she had a wild fear that he might start moving and forget that she was human. She trusted him, though, and the fear was quickly gone. Her left hand left his balls and snaked its ways around his ass, squeezing one of his tight cheeks possessively. Remembering his finger play with her earlier, she slowly began to move her hand towards the crevice between his cheeks. Just because she had enjoyed it didn't mean he would, but she decided to try anyway. Her fingers moved between the crack, teasing the rosebud between his cheeks as she took a little more of his cock inside her warm mouth. She felt his fingers tighten in her ear as a low groan came from above her.

"Willow," he cried out hoarsely, feeling her warm finger pressing between his cheeks as she sucked and licked at his cock. His eyes flashed yellow as he felt himself cum, a growl coming from his torn lips as he sent his seed into her mouth.

********************

Willow felt him flood her mouth as she pulled her head back, swallowing much of the cool, salty liquid. The rest dribbled down her chin or fell onto her bare breasts. She licked her lips, excited to see that he stayed hard. There might be even more benefits to loving a vampire that she had even imagined, she decided. She looked up at him, saw the gentle look in his eyes and smiled. She had never imagined that giving him pleasure would also give her pleasure. She had almost found release from sucking his cock, without anyone even touching her. Now, she could feel his seed on her breasts, could still taste him in her mouth. She was tired of the teasing games and seduction. She needed him.

"Spike," she said his name softly, her right hand pushing her hair from her face as she looked up at him.

"Eh, luv?" he said hoarsely, still shaking from the orgasm that he had just had. He could see his cum on her face and breasts, his demon pleased by the sight.

"Fuck me," she said with an impish smile, "hard."

He looked at her in surprise, shaking his head slightly, "You don't know what you're asking, pet."

She nodded, "You've been holding back. I can sense it, Spike. I want you, all of you. Give yourself to me. Please?"

Spike smiled at her words, seeing the sincerity in her green eyes. As one, he and his demon moved, claiming her mouth in a rough kiss as he pushed her against the ground. His left hand skimmed down her body, finding her panties and ripping them off easily. He held his cock against her warmth, pushing the head inside as he heard her startled gasp. With a predatorial smile, he entered her in one thrust, burying his cock inside her tight warmth, his balls resting against her ass. She screamed out his name, her head going back as her fingernails dug deep into his back. She arched up, feeling him in places that had previously been untouched. His mouth along her face, down her neck, capturing her breasts then moving back up again. He licked her and bit her and sucked on her flesh until it was light pink. His hands were not idle, his left snaking between her ass cheeks and his right kneading her breast.

Willow felt him begin to move finally, a pain between her legs that she hadn't even felt the first time she and Oz had made love. She'd been right. He was too large. It hurt, but in a fantastic way. She felt his finger moving along her ass again, causing tingles that she had never felt. She began to move against him finally, her muscles adjusting to his size finally. With each thrust, she felt his curls brush against her flesh as he ground against her clit. She ignored the rocks pushing against her back, her legs wrapping themselves around his waist as they moved together in a rough coupling. Hands were everywhere, teasing and pinching and squeezing, hers as well as his. She knew that any mark she made would soon fade, but she enjoyed seeing the marks in his skin from her fingernails.

She was so much more tighter than he had imagined. That silly wolf-pup had never been man enough for her. Spike entered her with deep, penetrating thrusts, a finger from his left hand easing itself into her rosebud. He heard her cry of pleasure and smiled, noting her response for future use. He felt her muscles squeezing him, her legs urging him closer. Blue eyes flashed yellow as he felt the tension spreading over him. He heard her cry of release, saw her head go back, her neck so inviting. He leaned down, the ridges of his forehead against her cheek. He pushed into her once, twice, three times before he felt his release. He bit into her neck as he came, his body pushing her against the ground as his seed entered her. He heard her soft cry of pleasure at his bite, her hand moving to his head as she brushed his hair as he drank. Pulling back slightly, he looked at the deep wound on her neck. With a possessive smile, he settled against her, his cock still buried deep, his tongue lazily licking away from the blood as he began to purr. Distantly, he heard her whisper I love you as she drifted off to sleep.

********************

"I see you completed the game," Maurice said with a smile as Willow and Spike entered the room.

"Uh, yeah," Willow stammered, sure that he must know how they had spent a majority of the day. After all, she was standing in front of him wearing her T-shirt and cut off shorts, her panties and bra lost somewhere in the maze, bites and bruises could be seen on her arms and legs and neck, and that was just the area that he could see. Spike, too, had his own share of bruises and marks, his lips torn from a rough kiss just before they had left the maze.

"Did you win?" Maurice asked, raising his eyebrow as he looked them both over. Chuckling, he said, "Silly question. It is obvious that you have both won."

"That we did, mate," Spike said, glancing at Willow and realizing that she didn't have a bra underneath her tight T-shirt. He shrugged out of his duster, resting it over her shoulders as he held the front. He gave Maurice a narrowed look, "We'd better be off soon."

"Surely you'll stay for dinner," Maurice objected, looking at Willow with a charming smile. "I'm sure you're ravenous. Especially after working off all that energy."

Willow felt her face flame at his knowing smile. He was right, though. She was starving. She and Spike had spent hours making love and fucking and napping before waking to repeat the cycle. Finally, as the sun had set, they made their way to the river and bathed, Willow finding out just how fun sex in the water could be, then dressed to finish the maze. It had taken them nearly another three hours to finish the game, would have been less but they kept stopping to kiss. She looked at Spike, smiling when she saw him glaring at Maurice. "Honey, I could use some food, if you wouldn't mind...."

Spike looked down at her, smiling as he realized that he couldn't tell no. "Fine. We eat then back to Sunnyhell. How does that sound?"

"Great," she replied with a smile as she rested her head against his chest. She looked at Maurice, "So, what's for dinner?"

"Let's go to the kitchen and see what we've got," he suggested with an easy smile.

********************

Willow left the bathroom, her right hand covering a yawn as she walked barefoot towards her bed. She looked down at the purple silk shirt that went past her knees and smiled. The cool material brushed her skin and reminded her of Spike. Her eyes moved to her bed, seeing her bleached blonde lover laying on the bed on his stomach, his ass half covered by her sheet. Looking at the pale globe cause an all too familiar tingle in her lower stomach. She shook her head, wondering when she had turned into such a little nympho. It seemed that, now that she had had sex with Spike, she couldn't stop thinking about it. Not that all there was was sex.

They had left Maurice at nearly one in the morning, arriving back at her house before two. They'd taken a shower, together, and then had a nap. About four, they'd watched some cartoons and had a snack, spending nearly an hour just talking and holding each other. That had drifted into the sweetest sex that Willow had ever had and then sleep. She had woken up and gone to the bathroom, and now wasn't sure if she wanted to try to catch a few more hours of sleep or just stay awake. According to her clock, it was almost seven. She had promised to meet Buffy and Anya at around six to get ready for the auction, which was taking place at nine that evening.

She sighed softly as she thought of the auction. She wasn't going to bid on Spike. She had confessed his plan to her friends, knew that Buffy and Anya would have some devious comeuppance in mind for him, but she couldn't save him. She loved him and knew that he would not understand why she wasn't going along with his plan. Somewhere, in the very back of her mind, the part of her that was still clouded with low self esteem had to wonder still if this had been some elaborate game for him, some way to guarantee a win against the slayer. She hated that part of her, the her from before Buffy as she tended to refer to it. All the doubts and insecurities that she tried to overcome. Would she lose Spike by not bidding?

She frowned as she pushed her hair away from her face, moving to lay back down beside him. She snuggled against him, her head on her soft pillow as his arm snaked around her waist, pulling her closer in his sleep. Did he love her? Could he live with maybe losing a bet with Buffy and Anya just to help her keep a clear conscience? Was she acting foolishly by not bidding? After all, it was just some silly bet. An auction that everyone had a right to participate in. He would probably win even without her help. Thinking of another woman winning him, touching him, laughing with him, Willow's eyes narrowed as they looked at her ceiling.

She was pretty much damned if she did, damned if she didn't she realized. One way risked alienating Buffy and the others by helping Spike cheat on their bet. The other risked losing Spike. She didn't want to lose anyone. She hadn't made the damn bet. Didn't even care about it. Why, then, was she the one that stood to lose the most either way? She almost wished it had never happened, but knew in her heart that it had somehow brought her and Spike together. Because of that bet and the auction, he had blackmailed her into helping him and they had found each other along the way. For that, she was grateful. Knowing her luck, she'd enjoy these couple of days of happiness to find it all ripped cruelly from her at that stupid auction. She'd lost it all.

She smiled wryly as she realized how positive she was sounding. Pushing away her negative thoughts, she decided to enjoy the time that she had with him, just in case. Maybe he would still win and could then forgive her for not bidding. Maybe she'd get in there and see those women eyeing him like a piece of meat and max out his damn card. She yawned as she decided that there was no point worrying now. She'd have no answers until the auction anyway. Another fourteen hours that she could spend with Spike without worry or concern. Smiling, she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.

********************

Spike watched Willow as she cooked, noticing how graceful she could make the simplest action appear. He pushed his chair back, resting his chin on his hands on the table, his blue eyes never leaving her. She was wearing his silk shirt and nothing else. The shirt fell past her knees but the sides were high, showing off her long legs. He smiled as she reached for something in an overhead cabinet causing the material to rise in back and flash him with the briefest glimpse of her round bottom. He felt himself hardening as she continued to cook, oblivious to her effect on him.

"Stop it," she scolded, looking at him finally.

"Stop what?" he asked innocently, not raising his head.

"Looking at me like that," she said, motioning with her hand as she flushed.

"Like what?"

"Like I'm dessert and you're ravenous," she said, her hands moving to her hips, causing the silk to tighten over her chest.

"Oh, but pet, I am ravenous," he drawled silkily, his eyes sweeping over her.

"And I'm starved," she said, not giving into the heavy lidded desire she saw in his eyes. Well, not too much.

"Finish your lunch then, then I can have dessert," he said with a teasing smile.

"If you'd quit looking at me like that, I would," she said, throwing her hands in the air, "Argh...you make me so mad sometimes."

He laughed softly as she turned and went back to her sandwich. He sat back in the chair, taking a sip of his blood as he said, "You know, I've been thinking."

"Alert the media. Something rare has happened," she said sarcastically as she walked towards the refrigerator.

"Ha, ha," he said dryly, his eyes twinkling with amusement. "I'm serious."

She looked at him and gave him a prim look, "So was I."

"Fine, I won't share my thoughts with you. Use me for my body and not my mind," he said dramatically.

"OK," she agreed, smiling as she faced him.

"Is that how it is?" he asked, giving her an amusing glare.

"What were you thinking?" she asked, picking up her plate and moving to sit down. She took a bite of her food, groaning in pleasure as she ate.

"I'm not sure if I like you making those groans about a sandwich," he mentioned, scowling. "I rather like thinking they're reserved for me and not ham and cheese too."

"Jealous of lunch meat, Spike?" she asked, smiling slightly.

He snorted, "I've no need to be jealous of anything."

"Right," she rolled her eyes, oddly pleased that he was so possessive of her noises. "Now tell me what you were thinking."

"I think you should wear that tonight, to the auction," he said with a smile. "I'd be won by the sexiest woman there."

"Oh, the auction," she said, looking at her plate intently. "Yeah, that is tonight, isn't it?"

He frowned as he noticed the change in her, "You know that it is."

"Guess I forgot, what with all the excitement and such," she said with a weak smile. "I'm not wearing this shirt tonight. I'm thinking pants and a turtle neck maybe."

"Something low cut and slinky, show off those gorgeous breasts and long legs," he responded with a small smile, though his eyes were still watching her.

It was her turn to snort, "And the bite mark on my neck along with the bites and bruises. I think not. Not even I could Buffy away from the stake."

"Damn slayer," he cursed, making a face. "Fine, no low cut, but no turtle neck either. Surprise me."

"Oh, I think I'll be doing that," she said softly, finishing her sandwich.

Spike stood, "Well, luv. I have a few things to take care of. Will you be OK until I get back?"

"Spike, it's sunny," she pointed out with a frown. What did he have to take care of?

"I know that, pet. I won't be long. Just a few errands to run. Got to get myself ready for tonight," he said, giving her a smile.

"I'll be fine," she said with a smile. "Probably just take a nap. Must be pretty important errands if you're venturing out in the sun."

"That they are," he said, knowing she was dying of curiosity.

"You're not going to tell me, are you?" she said, pouting slightly.

"Nope. You've got your secrets, I've got mine," he said. He leaned over and kissed her, a brief but toe curling exchange. Moving towards the living room, he looked back at her and winked, saying, "Enjoy that nap, pet."

********************

Anya leaned back on the sofa, a smile on her pretty face. "I don't think we'll have to worry about Spike trying to cheat again after this, if it works."

"Willow will kill us, though," Buffy said, chewing on her bottom lip. "Oh well, he deserves it. Luring her into helping him cheat."

"As if he'd need to cheat anyway," Anya said, snorting. "He might be annoying as hell, but he is gorgeous. He'd have won hands down."

"He is pretty sexy, isn't he?" Buffy said, wriggling her eyebrows. Sighing, she said, "I don't know....maybe we should just let it go. If she doesn't bid on him, that will catch him off guard enough."

"We might end up making it even worse for Willow afterwards," Anya agreed, making a face. "I just hate to let him think he bested us."

"Me too," Buffy said, a thoughtful look on her face. She was about to speak when she heard a knock on her door. Getting up, she opened it and was pushed to the side.

"Damn it, damn it, damn it," Spike cursed as he ran towards the slayer's stairs. "Shut the damn door and those curtains."

"Aye, aye, master," Anya said, flipping him off as she got to her feet and shut the curtains. She looked at Spike in curiosity as he moved to leather duster from over his head.

"So, Fang, what brings you here?" Buffy asked, giving Anya a confused glance before looking back at Spike.

"Do you have anything to drink?" he asked, moving past her and into her living room. "Something strong."

"Sorry, no alcohol in the house," she said, moving to sit on the sofa beside Anya. "And again I ask, why are you here?"

He looked at her, seeing that the ex-demon was there too. "Good, you're here too. Saves me a trip."

"A trip for what?" Anya asked, scowling at him. She hated being confused.

"To see you, you bloody cow," he said, sitting in the armchair, his feet going to the table.

"Spike, get the feet off the table," Buffy said, glaring at him. "Why do you need to see Anya? And why are you here?"

"I'm out," he said with a shrug.

"Is this some game? We're supposed to guess what you're out of? Judging from the roots starting to show, I'd guess bleach first," Anya said with a smug smile as Spike's hand went to his head.

"I don't have roots," he denied, his eyes taking on a vulnerable look as he asked, "Do I?"

"No, Spike, you don't," Buffy said with a sigh. Just when she wanted to hate him, he had to go and do or say something almost sweet. "But if you don't start talking soon, you might not have any hair left at all."

"The bet," he said, shaking his head. "I'm out. You chits win. I lose. It's over."

********************

"You want out?" Buffy looked at Spike with a dumbfounded expression.

"To think, after all those years of trying, this is what makes you speechless," Spike said, laughing.

"You can't want out," Anya said, looking at Buffy then back at Spike. "You don't quit."

"Yeah, she's right. You never give up, Spike. What's really happening?" Buffy asked.

Spike shrugged, "Guess I figured it wasn't worth all the trouble. I know I'd win, so why bother?"

"Uh uh," Buffy said, shaking her head. "Not that easy. A bets a bet."

"Bloody hell, woman, I don't want to win that badly," he snarled, wondering why he was there at all. He should have gone with his first impulse: chain Willow to the bed and fuck her silly until the damn auction was over.

"Spike, you love winning," Anya reminded. "You know, gloat and remind us that we're losers. You live for it."

"Maybe I've found something better to live for," he said without thinking, his eyes snapping as he realized what he had said. Buffy noticed the slip but ignored it, "Spike, you're an important part of this bet. I know Riley can beat Xander, but without you, they won't do it. Then she'd think that she'd have won."

Anya snorted, seeing what Buffy was doing and playing along, "Listen to her, Spike. Do you want me to have to deal with that arrogance?"

"I couldn't care less, actually," Spike said, not caring about anything except how sad Willow had looked when he had mentioned the auction. After thinking about it, he had realized that she didn't like him participating and that she'd never been fond of the bet. That's why he was here, making a complete moron out of himself, actually agreeing to let the slayer win. "I want out."

Buffy frowned, seeing that her original ploy wouldn't work and quickly attacking the one area she was confident that Spike couldn't resist. With a smile, she said, "Ah, I see."

"See what?" Spike asked, eyes narrowing at her tone of voice and the look in her eyes.

"You know that Riley will beat you," Buffy said with a superior smile. "It's all right, Spike. I understand. You're scared to go up there and get such a small amount of money in comparison to Riley or even Xander."

"You silly bitch," he hissed, his ego getting the best of him. "Do you really think that lunkhead boy toy of yours would get more than me? Me? And the moron? That's a laugh."

"It's all right, Spike. We understand. You want to give up and let us win, fine. We won't force you to go up there and be humiliated when you lose," Anya said, watching him snarl as she spoke. Torture, those were the days.

"The only ones that will be humiliated are those two twits you call lovers," he said, getting to his feet. "We'll see who fetches the highest price, girls. See you both tonight," with that he picked up duster and put it over his head, running out the front door to Willow's car.

"Slayer wins again," Buffy said with a smile as she looked at Anya, "find the weakness and attack. Works every time."

"So he wanted to give up," Anya said, shaking her head. "Me thinks something happened between him and our Willow."

"I would agree," Buffy said, shaking her head. "Call the boys and get them over here. We have less than five hours to come up with a plan."

********************

"Humiliated my ass," Spike muttered as he entered the house. "I'll show them humiliated."

"Spike, is that you?" Willow asked, rolling her head back against the sofa to look at him.

"Yes," he said as he slid his duster off. He walked into the living room, still angry over the damn slayer's assumption that he was scared of losing to her idiot boy toy or to Chubs. That was a laugh.

"That didn't take very long," she said with a smile as he walked into the room. She frowned when she saw the repressed power in him, knew immediately that he was angry for some reason. "Are you all right? What happened?"

"You're mine," he said, his eyes flashing as he looked at her. Stupid bitches, thinking that he was weak and pathetic enough to not get any money. He'd show them both. He moved towards Willow, his eyes not leaving her face. He needed her, needed to remember that he had her.

"Spike, you're starting to scare me," she said nervously, having not seen him this ruthless in over a year.

"I need you," he said softly, not wanting to scare her. Not when he had just found her.

"What happened?" she asked quietly, needing to know why he was so angry.

"Nothing important," he said, his duster falling to the floor. His shirt quickly followed as did his boots. "Strip. I need to be inside you now."

"No," she said, shaking her head. "Not like this. You're angry, Spike. Why?"

"Get undressed," he growled, his jeans falling down his legs, his cock hardening as he looked at her, the soft scent of her fear like perfume. "Now."

"Fuck you," she said, scrambling off the couch. "I'm not going to let you fuck me because you're angry at something. I won't be used."

"Willow, get that cute little ass naked now," he commanded, his demon rising at her refusal. His cock started to throb as she faced him defiantly, her eyes clouded with anger and desire.

"Go fuck yourself," she said, moving away from him. "I'm not some toy you can wind up whenever the mood strikes. I thought there was something happening between us....you won't even talk to me!"

"Willow, it's taking every bit of control that I have right now to keep the demon chained," he warned, his eyes sincere. "You're mine, my mate. You're right. I am angry right now. As my mate, you will share that anger. You knew what you were getting into. I'm a demon, baby. Nothing will change that."

"What happened?" she asked, backing away from him.

"I was challenged, pet," he said simply.

"You'd force me, wouldn't you?" she whispered, seeing he had no intentions of leaving her.

"It wouldn't be force, pet," he said with a small smile. "Even now I can smell the arousal. Once I touched you, you'd be begging me for more. Don't make me prove it."

"Is this what it's going to be like?" she asked, shaking as she began to unbutton the buttons of the silk shirt. "You want me and I have to give myself to you?"

"No," he said, "but sometimes it will. This damn chip makes it worse, pet. Messes with my head, makes me...I don't know, fucked up."

"Who challenged you?" she asked as the shirt dropped to the floor.

"No one important," he said as she started walking towards him. "Just messed with the insecurities a bit. Pissed the demon off. You soothe it, calm it. I need you."

"Oh, Spike," she whispered, moving into his arms, "next time, try talking."

"Not used to that. Used to taking what I want," he mumbled against her neck.

"Get used to it," she said with a smile as his hands went under her ass, lifting her and sliding into her wet warmth. Their mouths met as he carried her to the sofa, tumbling with her as they kissed.

********************

Xander smiled as he hung up the phone. He moved across the room, sitting next to Anya as he said, "Done."

"Great," Buffy smiled, leaning against Riley.

"You do know that you two are playing a dangerous game," Riley said in a serious voice.

"What game?" Anya asked, frowning.

"Matchmaking," he said as amusement flashed in his eyes.

"It's not matchmaking," Buffy defended, "they're already together. We're just paying Spike back and helping Willow all at the same time."

"What if she doesn't look at it as helping?" he asked.

"Then we'll blame you two," Anya said with a smile.

"Yeah, you both forced us into it. What could we say to our two manly men? Certainly couldn't tell you no," Buffy continued, laughing as Riley and Xander exchanged a look.

"Maybe we should just leave them to it," Xander suggested, winking at his friend. "Disappear until after things have settled."

"A friend of mine owns a cabin up in the mountains. We could go fishing," Riley said, smiling as Buffy glared at them.

"There will be no cabins or aftermath, thank you very much," she said crossly. "Everything will work out perfectly. Hell, I bet they never guess that we had anything to do with it."

"Unless it works out right, then, of course, we'll constantly remind them," Anya said, laughing.

"It just seems kind of silly," Xander said, shaking his head. "I mean, if he wanted to quit, why didn't you just let him? Why go to all this trouble?"

"It's the principle, Xander. If we'd let him quit, well," Buffy frowned then smiled, "it wouldn't have been near as much fun as setting his cute ass up."

"You think his ass is cute?" Riley questioned with a raised brow.

"Well, um, in an evil he's an enemy kind of way," Buffy finished weakly.

"You think he'll win, don't you?" Xander asked, laughing. "Go figure. You two made a bet with a guy that you're pretty sure you'll lose."

"No offense, honey. I made the bet to back you up," Anya said sweetly. "It's just, I mean, he's got *it*, whatever *it* is. While I think you're handsome and charming, he gives off vibes of confidence and sensuality that take decades to master."

"Yeah, what she said," Buffy echoed.

"Besides that, there's that voice and those eyes and those lips and those cheekbones and those hands and that walk and that ass and," Anya shut her mouth when she saw Xander glaring at her. "I mean, he's OK looking, if you like that type."

"Good save," Buffy whispered out loud as she felt eyes on her. Looking at Riley, she defended, "What? I never mentioned his ass."

"If you keep talking, you know that you're just going to make it worse, don't you?" Riley said, smiling slightly.

"Why don't we forget about Spike for the time being and think about getting ready for the auction," Buffy suggested with an overly bright smile.

"Xander, when does your Mom expect us?" Anya asked.

"She said to meet up with her about eight thirty or so," Xander said, smiling. "That means that we need to get home and get changed."

"Willow was supposed to meet us before the auction to get ready," Buffy reminded. "I wonder if she'll be too busy to remember."

"No, Willow will remember," Anya said with a smile. "She'd never forget her friends. Sorry, honey, looks like I'm staying here. I'll meet up with you at the auction. Just remember the plan."

"Plan, got it," he said nodding. He smiled as he leaned over and kissed her. "I do hope you know what you're doing."

"Do I ever?" she said, laughing as she kissed him back.

"I know, I know," Riley said, holding up his hand. "Remember the plan."

"Actually," Buffy smiled, "I was going to ask you to kiss me."

Riley smiled as he leaned over and followed her orders.

********************

"Mrs. Harris said that it was formal," Anya said, frowning as she looked at the two dresses. "Which one is the most formal?"

Willow looked over her friend's shoulder, smiling, "The gold one. Besides, it would look great with your hair."

"You think?" Anya asked with a smile at her friend. "Fine. The gold one it is. You don't think it's too short?"

"Anya, wear the damn gold dress," Buffy said, laughing as she searched her closet. "You know you look smashing in it, quit trying to fish for compliments."

"What are you wearing, Wills?" Anya asked, glad that her decision had been made.

"I brought this," Willow said, pulling out a rather plain black dress.

"You don't look very good in black," Buffy said, frowning. "I mean, you look good in anything, but I thought you'd want to look, I dunno, sexy."

"Why would I want to look sexy?" Willow asked, sighing. "I'm not going to win anyone."

"So, you're not going to aid and abet the cheater?" Anya asked, studying the redhead.

"Nope. I just want this damn auction to be over and done with," Willow said, tossing the black dress on the bed. "That's the best I could come up with."

"Let me see what I've got," Buffy suggested, looking back into her closet.

"No way," Willow protested. "No offense, but all you have are slinky, sexy, short dresses. Besides, I don't have the bust to fill one."

"You have a fine bust, Wills. Quit being so insecure," Buffy scolded as she looked for the perfect dress.

"Not insecure, just honest," Willow said, looking down at her pert but not overly developed breasts.

"What about this?" Buffy asked, showing a red off the shoulder dress that she'd had for years but never worn. Damn, she really needed to go through her closet and throw some things away.

"I don't think so," Willow said, shaking her head. "I'm fine with the black."

"Do you have anything green or maybe a dark blue," Anya asked, nodding. "Either of those colors would look stunning."

"I'm not sure about green, but I think I have a blue dress in back," Buffy said, pushing more clothes out of the way. "Remind me to add clean the closet to my list of things to accomplish in the next couple of months."

"Putting it right underneath learn to drive a car without wrecking," Willow said in amusement.

Buffy stopped looking to turn and glare at her friend before looking back the closet, "Ah, here it is." She pulled out a simple silk dress that was a dark royal blue. "I knew it was in there somewhere. I wore it to a wedding I think. Or a funeral. Don't remember. Either way, here it is. Do you like it?"

Willow sighed, knowing that neither of her friends would give up until she was wearing anything but the black dress she had brought. "It looks fine."

"Try it on," Buffy said, handing Willow the dress.

"OK," Willow took the dress and went to the bathroom, listening as Buffy started asking Anya which dress she should wear. She pulled on the silk dress, closing her eyes at the feel of silk against her bare skin. It had to be silk, she thought crossly. Opening her eyes, she gasped. It had looked like a pretty normal dress hanging from the hanger. Putting it on, she discovered that the front dipped slightly over her breasts which appeared much larger under the tight material. The waist was tight and the skirt fell straight and tight right past her knees, a slit in the side the only possible way to move. She looked at the back and saw that most of the material was missing, dipping low over the swell of her butt. The small spaghetti straps would make wearing a bra impossible. She turned and studied herself, seeing that the front was high enough to cover the bites that marked her breasts. There was no way, though, that the large bite mark on her neck would be covered. She smiled as she realized that all she needed was a small scarf, something to wrap around her neck to accessorize the dress and to conceal the wound.

She went to the door and cracked it, asking Buffy if she had a scarf in the same shade as the dress. The slayer went to her dresser, searching until she found something just a shade darker. It would work, Willow decided as she took the scarf and fixed it. Perfect. She had to admit that she looked pretty darn good. Sexy but sophisticated. She pulled her hair up and then put it down, trying to figure out what worked best with the dress. It was too short to do much with it, but she finally decided that it looked better framing her face. She fluffed it out and applied a light amount of make up before rejoining her friends.

Anya looked up and let out a wolf whistle that would have many a man envious, "Wow, Willow. That's stunning."

"Keep the dress," Buffy decided, smiling at her friend. "You look much more beautiful in it than I ever could."

"Did you decide?" Willow asked as Anya moved past her to go to the bathroom and get dressed. She sat down, pulling out the thigh high stockings she had selected to go with the black dress. She pulled one on, careful not to snag it with her fingernails.

"I'm thinking the lavender," Buffy said, showing Willow a pretty dress in pale purple. "Nice touch, the scarf."

"Oh, yeah, I thought it could use it," Willow said, blushing slightly.

"Covers the bite mark too, huh?" Buffy said, watching as Willow's eyes widened. "To think, something so fashionable could conceal something so naughty....."

"You know," Willow said softly.

"Wills, honey, you're practically glowing. You either got properly shagged or well," Buffy thought, "you got improperly shagged. Either way leads to a nice bite mark on that pretty little neck."

"And you're fine with it? With me and Spike?" Willow asked hesitantly.

"Is there a you and Spike?" Buffy asked seriously, looking at her friend. "I don't want you hurt, Willow. If your happiness depends on the bleached blonde blunder, so be it. He's actually a pretty nice guy deep down. Way deep down."

"Thanks," Willow said, chewing on her lip. "And I'm not sure if there is an *us* or not, but there's something."

"So," Buffy asked with a grin as she waited for Anya, "which one was it? Proper or improper?"

"Buffy! Goddess, you're so bad," Willow shrieked, laughing as she covered her face and whispered, "Both."

********************

"Hello, Mrs. Harris. It's nice to see you," Willow said as she smiled at her best friend's mother.

"Why, Willow. I wouldn't have known you. You look so grown up and beautiful," Mrs. Harris said, looking at the redhead. "Xander mentioned that you would be here tonight. Thank you for supporting the cause."

"It's my pleasure," Willow said, hugging her childhood friend's mother before looking at her friends. "Buffy, do you know Xander's mother?"

"I think we met once," Buffy said, shaking the woman's hand.

"I remember it vaguely," Mrs. Harris said, shrugging, "My son stopped bringing his friends over years ago. I'm afraid that Willow is the only one that I still remember. And Anya of course, but she's a different sort of friend, isn't she?"

"Do we have assigned seats or do we sit anywhere?" Willow asked, looking around the ballroom. It wasn't very crowded yet, but women were coming in every so often.

"I reserved a table for you girls near the front after Xander mentioned some of his friends planning to attend. It has a sign on it if you'd like to sit down," Mrs. Harris said with a friendly smile.

"We're going to be that close?" Willow said, seeing the table that Mrs. Harris had pointed out. She gulped, wondering if Spike would see that she didn't have one of the bidding paddles as soon as he walked onto the stage. She was so worried about tonight, knowing in her heart that he would be angry at her for not carrying out her part of the bargain. She hesitated, her eyes looking towards the registering table.

"Honey, go sit down," Buffy said, her hands firmly on Willow's back. "No bidding tonight, remember?"

"I know," Willow said weakly, "It's just, what if some poor little old lady bets on him and he carries through with his threat? Maybe I should bid...."

"Go sit down," Anya said, pushing Willow towards the table. "We'll get something to drink for you and be there in just a second. If I see you going to register to bid, I'll do something appropriately nasty and evil!"

Willow sighed, knowing that Anya was just the type to carry out such a vague threat. "Fine. I'll sit. Get me something strong to drink or I might not make it through the night."

"Is Willow going to be all right?" Mrs. Harris asked the girls. "She seems rather upset."

"She'll be fine," Buffy assured the older woman. "Now, why don't you show us where the drinks are and we can finish our discussion along the way."

"Of course," Mrs. Harris said, thinking how glad she was that her son had found such nice, polite friends.

********************

Willow sat in the chair, noticing that it was rather comfortable. Good, if she was going to have to suffer through the evening, at least it would be without a sore butt. She looked around the ballroom, noticing that it was decorated in elegance and style. Strange since, in less than an hour, the stage would be crawling with men parading around like hunks of beef. She'd expected sleazy music and maybe a disco ball. Instead, she got something out of a debutante's coming out party. It was all shades of pink and peach, entirely feminine. Spike would be gagging the entire way down the walkway. She smiled at that, wondering if he'd get so ill looking around that he'd simply turn and walk away. She sighed, figuring she wasn't that lucky.

Her eyes again strayed to the register table, noticing how many women were lined up and filling out the small white papers. She knew if she went over there, Anya and Buffy would kill her. They had taken great pains to remind her that she would be helping Spike cheat on the bet if she bid on him. They also reminded her that they couldn't bid on Riley or Xander, so she couldn't bid on her man, it was only fair after all. To hell with fair. She looked at each woman, dressed in their elegant cocktail dresses with their nice jewels dripping from every ear and finger, and imagined red-hot pokers going through whichever ones would bid on her Spike. Being with him, she had realized something about herself. She was possessive. He was hers, damn it, and she resisted the urge to stand on the table and let every woman there know it.

She looked around the crowd for signs of her friends, finally finding them near the bar with Xander's Mom. They were talking to Mrs. Harris, Buffy's hand flying as she spoke. Willow smiled, recognizing her friend's habit when she was telling a story. She watched as a woman came up to them, half hugging Mrs. Harris and then smiling at Buffy and Anya. She watched as introductions were made and the woman moved on. That same cycle repeated a few times, each time Buffy trying to take up the story where she had left off before being interrupted again. Finally, a woman in her early 30s came over, brown shoulder length hair and friendly blue eyes. This time, the woman completely hugged Mrs. Harris and Willow assumed they were friends. She got bored with watching them, looking back towards the register desk.

She frowned as she looked at her table, noticing that there weren't any programs. She glanced at the other tables, not noticing any on them either. Straightening, she started to look around for a program, curious to see the other men that were being sold off like cattle. She noticed women looking through what had to be a program, all of them around the register table.

"Don't even think about it," Anya teased as she moved to sit on Willow's right side.

"Don't make us get out the chains and tie you to that chair," Buffy added as she sat down, placing a drink in front of Willow.

"It's about time," Willow said, taking a healthy drink. Putting it down, she scowled at Buffy, "It's water."

"Sorry, hon. I'm not going to help you drink yourself into oblivion," Buffy said, taking a sip of her ginger ale. "I never realized how many people Mrs. Harris knew. She's not at all what I expected."

"She's nice but a bit flighty. Completely opposite Xander's dad. I never liked him," Willow said, making a face. "They never really seemed to match. He's an asshole, loud and abusive when he's drunk and a complete introvert when he's not. They fight a lot. I think that's why she works so much."

"Xander hates his Dad but he seems to like his Mom," Anya remarked, having just recently met her lover's mother. "She's nice but absent minded."

"She has a lot of friends," Buffy said, shaking her head and smiling.

"Someone is waving at you," Willow said, seeing the brunette woman seated at a table across the room.

"Oh, that's Carrie. Mrs. Harris said she's filthy rich and always spends a bundle at these events," Anya said, waving back.

"And that one is Miriam," Buffy said, pointing to an older lady. "Husband makes millions and she spend thousands for charity. She mentioned something about finding herself a healthy young stud for the evening."

"She'd better keep her beady eyes off my Spike," Willow muttered, glaring at the stranger.

"And that one is Alice," Anya said, pointing out a woman in her forties with enough make up to supply the entire Freshman class of UC Sunnydale. "Some lawyer type that is keen on getting some companionship tonight."

"You learned all of them in a few minutes?" Willow asked, shaking her head.

"Xander's Mom was nice enough to point out the ones to pay attention too," Buffy said. "Like that one. The pretty blonde there. That's Stephy and Mrs. Harris thinks she'll end up taking home two bachelors."

"Good grief," Willow said, taking a sip of her water. "Poor Spike."

Buffy snorted, "Yeah, poor Spike. They'll eat him up alive."

"You don't have to sound so happy about that," Willow said, glaring at her friend.

"He deserves it," Buffy said simply.

"I don't think anyone deserves this," Willow said, looking at the women and finding herself reminded of sharks waiting for a juicy morsel. Maybe she could find Spike and get out before it started.

"You're not going anywhere, toots," Anya said with a smile. "Sit back and relax. Loverboy doesn't need rescuing, yet."

********************

"So, Wills, as we're waiting for the auction to start, why don't you tell us what you did last night and the night before," Buffy suggested with a smile.

"Yeah, she's right. Last thing we heard was the miniature golf game gone Red Shoe Diaries then a phone call saying you'd be gone. Details, girl," Anya said, leaning forward.

"I'm not giving details," Willow stammered, her face red as she looked at the large clock over the stage.

"We've got nearly half an hour," Buffy said with a smile. "Now, details."

"We had our last two dates," Willow said simply.

"Adventurous and romantic," Anya ticked off on her fingers. "What did you do? I mean, besides fucking like crazed bunnies."

"Anya!" Willow said, rolling her eyes, "Why do I have two such nosy friends?"

"Because you love us and know that life would be as dull as dirt without us," Buffy said sweetly.

"He took me a small town south of here, Seashell. I'd never heard of it. Anyway, an old friend of his has this maze thing," Willow explained.

"Maurice? Spike knows Maurice?" Anya asked, recognizing Seashell and maze. "Damn, if Ricey likes him, he has to be a good guy."

"You know Maurice?" Willow asked, smiling. "Isn't he great? He was so nice."

"I met him a few hundred years ago. Our paths crossed and we became friends. I've been through that maze, when he first started designing it. I'm sure it's changed a lot. He adds more to it all the time. I didn't remember just how close he was. I may have to take Xander down there," Anya said, smiling fondly as she thought of her old friend.

"The maze is great. It has all these flowers and a river and you have to go through all this stuff to make it to the other side," Willow explained to a confused Buffy. "He said that it has taken some people days. It's so easy to get lost in there, or to simply want to stay."

"So you went through a maze," Buffy said, smiling softly. "I'd think that was the adventure. So, what was the romance?"

Willow smiled as she said, "Making love beside the river in the sunlight."

"You didn't! Willow Rosenberg, what is it with you and doing it outside?" Buffy asked, giggling as Willow threw a napkin at her. "Wait, in the sunlight?"

Willow nodded as she smiled, "Maurice has his maze sunproofed. Vampires can be in it during the day and enjoy the sun without poof. I got to see him in the sun, Buffy. I never imagined having that chance...."

"I'm so happy for you, sweetie," Buffy said, squeezing Willow's hand. "He loves you, you know."

"I don't know. It might just be loneliness and lust," Willow said, frowning. "I can't tell. I mean, he's said things that make think it is love. Even remembers the date that he realized he wanted me, that he realized that I was important to him. Is that the same thing as love?"

"To him? Yes," Anya said, nodding. She looked around and smiled, "This place is sure filling up."

"Yeah, it's gonna be a full house," Willow remarked sharply, glaring at the newest women to sit down. "Damn fools should go home and send a check if they want to help charity."

"Now, now...don't be so mean. Just enjoy the night," Buffy said with a smile.

"How can you say that? Doesn't it bother you that Riley is going to be looked over like some hunk of beef?" Willow asked, looking at Anya. "And Xander? He'll faint if they start fighting over him."

"I'm not worried in the slightest," Buffy said honestly.

"Neither am I," Anya said, looking over Willow's shoulder and smiling.

"How can you not be? It's eating me up inside," Willow said.

"Hey honey," Xander said, kissing Anya briefly before sitting down beside her. "This place is a zoo."

"It's wild. I thought some woman was gonna corner us outside," Riley added after brushing his lips against Buffy's.

"Riley? Xander?" Willow said, looking at them both from their places beside her friends.

"You Willow. Me Xander," Xander said with a goofy smile as he whispered loudly to Anya, "Has she been drinking?"

"I've not been drinking," Willow said, growling at them.

"And we see the first sign of her relationship with Spike," Riley said sadly, shaking his head. "Growling today, swearing tomorrow."

"It will be swearing today if you don't tell me why you two are sitting out here," Willow said, glaring at them.

"Where else would we sit?" Xander asked, looking around. "These women are scary. I feel so vulnerable."

"I'll protect you, honey," Anya said, patting his arm.

"I mean, why aren't you backstage," Willow said, glaring at her old friend. "You know, with the other bachelors!"

"Why would we be?" Riley asked, stealing some of the peanuts from the bowl in front of Buffy.

"You're trying to drive me insane, aren't you?" Willow asked.

"Willow, honey, backstage is for the participants," Xander explained with a smile.

"Exactly. You and Riley," Willow said. "Spike's back there. You two should be too."

"Uh uh," Xander said, shaking his head.

"Uh uh?" Willow repeated, looking from Xander to Riley then to Anya and Buffy. "Why uh uh?"

Buffy smiled softly, taking Willow's hand and saying, "Honey, they're here as our guests. You see, they dropped out of the auction this afternoon."

********************

"Dropped out?" Willow looked at Buffy with wide eyes. "But, the bet."

"Easy. Anya and I lost," Buffy said with an innocent smile.

"Then, Spike doesn't have to do this," Willow said, eyes narrowing as she looked at her best friend. "He doesn't know, does he?"

"Of course not," Buffy said, laughing. "He's a big boy, Willow. Let him deal with it. They won't hurt him....too bad."

"You're evil," Willow said, looking at a smiling Anya. "And you are too."

"Hey, he's the one that got the entire bet started in the first place. True it was as a way to get closer to you, but still, he enjoyed watching me and Buffy fight," Anya pointed out. "So he's not some innocent bystander in all of this. Xander had to go to the gym and work out, so I'd say he's suffered."

"I quit eating Twinkies for a week," Xander added, making a puppy-dog face that made Willow have to cover a giggle. "That was my own private hell."

"I had to run nearly five miles a day," Riley said, making a face. "I hate running."

"I also made him work out for two hours a day for over a week," Buffy said sheepishly. "See? We made our men suffer because of our pride. Now, your man needs to suffer a bit because of his own pride."

"He's not going to like this," Willow said, shaking her head. "He's probably about ready to kill something right now since he has to have noticed that Xander and Riley aren't back there."

"He can't kill, so don't worry so much," Buffy said. "After all this is finished, I'm sure he won't be upset at all."

Willow snorted, "Not bloody likely. He's wearing leather, Buffy. He loathes leather. He only wore it tonight because I told him that women find leather and silk sexy. He's going to kill you guys then torture me. I know it."

"Leather?" Anya perked up, a smile crossing her pretty face. "You got Blondie into leather? Is it tight leather?"

"And silk?" Buffy added, getting a dreamy smile on her face. She sighed, "leather and silk....there's no way he would have lost."

"Why am I thinking that staking Spike might not be such a bad idea after all?" Riley asked Xander as he watched both of their girlfriends practically drool at their mental image of the blonde vampire in leather and silk.

"I've been saying that all along. Does anyone listen to me? Nooo," Xander said, shaking his head. He saw Willow look at him and hastened to add, "but that's a good thing because staking Spike would be bad. A very bad bad thing. Yep, not on the list of good things at all."

"Shh, it's starting," Buffy said, seeing Mrs. Harris walk onto the stage as the lights dimmed. She looked at Willow and smiled, "It's gonna be all right, honey. Just trust me."

Willow sighed, knowing that Spike was going to be very angry about this turn of events. If he didn't hate her before, he would after this damn auction was over. There was no way that he'd believe she was unaware of Buffy's plan. Not when he found out she had spilled the beans to her friends and declared that she wasn't going to bid on him. Nope, after tonight, any chance she had with him at all would be gone. She closed her eyes, blocking out Mrs. Harris introduction of some fireman, praying that the evening would end soon.

********************

Willow watched as the woman got up and squealed, running onto the stage and wrapping her arms around the banker's neck. He smiled, giving her cheek a kiss as they posed for the cameras. "I can't believe she spent nearly five thousand dollars on him. He was boring."

"Oh hush," Buffy scolded, smiling at her friend. "He was sort of cute."

"He was dull," Anya said, agreeing with Willow. "I'd have kept the money."

"Have I said yet how glad I am that we aren't up there, being talked about like these poor saps?" Xander asked Riley, having listened to his girls dissect every guy from one to ten so far. "How many guys are there?"

"I think I heard like twenty-five," Riley said.

"Which one is Spike?" Willow asked, wanting to leave.

"He's near the end, the last batch," Anya said, "and no, you aren't going anywhere."

"Yes, Mom," Willow said, sticking her tongue out at the girl.

"One day your face is going to freeze like that," Buffy warned, laughing as the newest bachelor came on stage. "Oh, look. It's Frank the chef."

"Chef?" Willow said, looking at the brawny man. "You're kidding."

"Nope," Buffy said, smiling. "Oh my God, look at that woman!"

Willow looked over and saw one of the prim and proper women waving her number around as if she were fanning herself. Several of the women laughed as Frank started to play for the audience, giving the woman a wink as he turned.

Willow heard the bids begin to be called, noticing that the woman Buffy had met earlier was bidding on every single guy. Carrie, she remembered, placing a name with the face. The woman would bid on any guy, waiting until the bidding reached a certain point then pull out, taking a drink of what appeared to be white wine before repeating the cycle with yet another guy. She leaned over, poking Buffy, "What's her deal?"

"Who?" Buffy asked, looking at the table Willow pointed out. "Carrie? I don't know. What's she doing?"

"She bids on everyone, no matter how dull and boring, but she never goes past a few rounds," Willow said.

Buffy shrugged, "I wouldn't know, hon. Maybe she likes to bid but doesn't want to win. Who knows?"

"Can I please leave?" Willow asked, knowing she was whining. "Isn't it bad enough that you're making him deal with all of this? Why do I have to watch it?"

"Willow, shut up," Buffy said sweetly, "you're missing Frank's date plans."

"I don't care about Frank or his date plans. I don't care about Bernie the banker or Mike the fireman or Leo the architect. I just want to go home so I can get used to being alone again," she whined.

"Leo was the landscaper. Mario was the architect," Anya pointed out with a smile. "And Frank just sold to that panting woman for $5600 bucks."

"This is a nightmare. An endless nightmare that is never going to end," Willow said, laying her head on the table as Gray the college professor took the stage.

********************

He'd been duped. Spike looked around the back stage area with narrow eyes, not seeing any sign of the lunkhead or the moron. He moved past some man that smelled as if he had fallen into a bottle of cheap aftershave and went towards the bathroom. Maybe they were hiding. He could see that. He walked into the bathroom, seeing about a dozen men, none of which were the two idiots he was looking for. He turned around, walking back into the pandemonium that was back stage at the auction.

He didn't know how, yet, but he knew that the slayer was behind this. It had her stench all over it. He'd wanted to quit, but she'd insisted he keep up his end of the bet. Why? What silly plan did she have in mind? He looked down and sighed, running a hand through his hair. He couldn't believe he had let Willow talk him into leather. The shirt was fine, the material on his skin reminding him of that morning and sinking into Willow when she was wearing his shirt. He groaned, resting his head against the wall as he felt himself growing hard from the memory. Now was definitely not the time or the place for that. Of course, he'd probably fetch a few extra dollars.

This entire thing disgusted him. He couldn't believe he'd let himself get into this mess. Sure, at the time, he'd wanted to annoy the slayer and then he'd used it as a way to keep Willow close. Now, he wished he'd just kept his mouth shut. If he hadn't had to be participating in the whole thing, he'd have been rather amused. These men, most in their thirties or older, were acting like virgins on their wedding nights. He'd heard them whispering about totals and bids and worries that they wouldn't get a pretty penny. Stupid humans. Who gave a right-o fuck what they brought in? The damn money went to charity anyway. He was actually helping feed the homeless humans or shelter the orphaned brats or whatever hell purpose the charity was for. Him, William the god damn Bloody, helping raise money for the humans. It was pathetic. His sire would laugh her pretty head off if she heard.

He looked at the listing they had given him. He was last. Dead last. He must be cursed. Normally, he's say something cocky, like they must have been saving the best for last. Now, though, he wanted nothing more than tell the bitch roaming around with the clipboard where to shove the bloody thing and leave. He wasn't a quitter though. Anya had been right about that much. He would have gladly quit for Willow earlier, but now, after arriving, they'd all think he was scared. Nope, not leaving for this vampire. Instead, he'd do his best to get a high bid. A bid so high that, when Willow finally won him, the slayer would have to admit defeat without claiming it was set up. So far, the highest winner had been some CEO that had smelled of stale cigars and alcohol, earning a measly ten grand. He could top that, he decided. Hell, he'd think about Willow and give those prim and proper biddies something to bid on if it took it.

He moved away from the wall, deciding to check on his lovely Goddess while he waited for the two idiots to make their appearance. He moved the curtain slightly, his blue eyes scanning the room until he zeroed in on her. His eyes narrowed as he looked at the people at her table. That damn bitch slayer had set him up. He'd been right not to trust her. Xander and Riley were sitting with them, both looking bored out their minds as they listened to that blonde bitch and the ex-demon bitch chatter. He moved his gaze to his Red, watching as she fidgeted in her chair. She looked around from the stage, her hand smoothing her hair as she looked at what must be a clock.

His little pet was nervous, he realized. He looked at her, what he could see at least. She had a dark blue scarf around her neck, covering his mark. He growled softly at her act, knowing that she had to conceal it but not liking it despite the circumstances. He wanted everyone to know that she was his, damn it. He saw her breasts pushed against tight dark blue silk, the nipples vaguely outlined. She wasn't wearing a bra. He growled again as he thought of these other men looking at her, winking and playing up their act. He watched as she dismissed the next man after barely glancing at him. She was waiting for him, he knew. He smiled, wondering if she had any idea what she meant to him. He doubted it, finding himself surprised these emotions she brought out in him.

He watched the bachelor strut and blow kisses at the twittering women, rolling his eyes as the man made some motion with his pelvis that caused giggles among the women. Most of the men had taken to flirting with the audience in hopes of getting a bigger bid. Spike had no interest in flirting with anyone except his Red. He watched as she drew her bottom lip into her mouth, her eyes anxious and nervous. He watched as she leaned closer to the slayer, whispering something. The blonde shook her head, saying something in return as she put her hand over Willow's. She wanted to leave, he realized with surprise. He watched as her face fell and her eyes half closed, wondering why she seemed so sad.

She was an enigma, his Red. Just when he thought he finally understood her, she did something that confused him and had him guessing again. She was supposed to bid on him, to win him, to take him home. Why, then, did she seem to want to leave so badly? He looked at the two morons at the table, things slowly clicking into place. She'd betrayed him. She had to have told the slayer about his plan, about her part in it. That's why the bitch had insisted he continue with the auction all the while letting her boy toy and Chubs quit the damn thing. Willow wasn't planning on bidding on him. That cheeky little brat. Did she really think he'd take that one lying down? She was his, damn it, and he was hers. He had no intention of letting some silly bitch with money win him and slobber all over him as he had seen several doing.

He watched her for several minutes, wondering if she really thought it was that easy. She decided to be nice and guilt free and not help him beat her friend. Well, fine and dandy. He'd tried to quit the damn bet for her, after all. Now, though, they were both in it until the end. He intended to wake up in her bed in the morning, and, to do that, the silly girl had get rid of her principles long enough to win him. If not, well, he'd refuse to go on the date and the charity could give back the damn money. Either way, he was going home with his Red. A wicked smile crossed his handsome face as he decided that there was only one answer. He'd just have to make sure that she felt the need to win him. Whistling softly, he let the curtain fall, deciding that he had time for a smoke before his number was called. Time to figure out his course of action and Willow's downfall, he thought with a smile.

********************

Willow sat with her elbows on the table, her chin resting in her palm. She sighed again, adding an extra hitch in her breath, watching as an overweight man in his mid forties hugged tightly on the woman that had won him with a bid of six thousand. He looked happy. The winner looked happy. They should both be shot, Willow decided crossly. Not killed, but maybe a painful shot in the kneecap. Just something to wipe those perky happy grins off their perky happy faces. She frowned, staring narrowed eyed at the happy couple, wishing she were somewhere else.

"Willow, quit giving the winners those dirty death looks," Anya said in a scolding voice, though her eyes were amused as she shared a look with Buffy.

"Yeah, honey. They aren't the ones you should be angry with," Buffy reminded, smiling at the display her best friend had given since the auction had begun. She had never seen Willow so surly and annoyed and downright moody. It was refreshing in a way.

"I'm not angry," Willow said grumpily. "Besides, I know who I should be mad at," she stared pointedly at Buffy then Anya then back at Buffy. "My two so-called friends that are making me endure this hell."

"Don't talk so rudely about Xander and Riley," Buffy said with a sweet smile as Xander rolled his eyes at her.

"Admit that you deserve it," Anya said, shaking her head.

"I didn't do anything," Willow said, realizing that she was actually whining. Good grief, what had she turned into?

"Oh, so plotting with an enemy, double crossing your friends in an attempt to let said hottie win a bet, sneaking around and researching, lying to your friends," Buffy ticked each offense off on her fingers as she spoke, watching as Willow's eyes looked at the table and the redhead fidgeted, "that's nothing to you?"

"I never lied and Spike isn't the enemy anymore," Willow mumbled, listening as bachelor number thirty-two was called. Lionel the zoologist. What the hell was a zoologist doing at a bachelor auction?

"Details, details," Anya said, waving her hand in the air. "You lied by omission. Anyway, this isn't so bad. You get to see all these entertaining guys act silly for money as well as these women toss around thousands of dollars like it's nothing."

"Oh the fun," Willow said dryly, giving the caramel haired girl a withering look. "Can I go home now?"

"Nope. Spike hasn't made it out yet," Buffy said. "You have to be here to see what he ends up bringing in."

"I'm actually kind of curious about that, myself," Xander admitted. "I mean, the highest bid was that CEO from the toy company last round and he only got sixteen thousand. Do you think Blondie will get more than that?"

"Spike is ten times better looking," Anya said critically, "but he doesn't have millions of dollars."

"Actually," Willow said, smiling softly, "if you combined all of his accounts, it would be a bit more than ten million. Of course, that would be cashing in his assets and liquidating his property."

Four mouths dropped open as Buffy tried to speak, "You mean he has that kind of money but he bums dollars off us for cigarettes?"

Willow nodded, "Yeah. Angelus taught him to plan for the future and Dru made sure her baby boy was taken care of. He doesn't touch it usually for some silly reason that only he would understand, but he's got it spread out over the world."

"I think I might have a new best friend," Xander said with a silly smile.

"I wouldn't try it," Willow said with a smile. "Like I said, he only uses it when he needs it."

"Why did he help us then?" Riley asked, ignoring the yelling women. "He obviously didn't need the money."

Willow shrugged and smiled the soft smile of a woman in love, "Who knows? That's just Spike."

"Maybe I should have let you max out his Gold card," Buffy muttered, her mind processing this latest bit of information she had learned about Spike and not coming to any definite conclusions. She hated not understanding his motives, especially when her best friend's heart was in the mix. Well, she'd just sit back and relax. Wait and see how he reacted when he learned he'd been out maneuvered. After that, she'd decide if he deserved Willow or not. Smiling, she listened as Willow quieted down and went back to the dramatic sighing. The redhead deserved to suffer for a bit. She'd known of Spike's plan the entire time and never mentioned anything. Yeah, both of them deserved this bit of payback Buffy decided with a smile as she winked at Anya. It was nearing the end of the auction. Things were just about to start getting interesting.

********************

Spike looked down, wishing for the tenth time in less than two hours that he could see his reflection. He'd never been one for vanity, hardly ever missing his ability to see himself. He didn't really care what he saw or what others saw, having never been quite as vain as his grandsire. That poofster had constantly been obsessed with his appearance, always playing with that thick dark hair and constantly prancing around in tight leather. Spike glanced at his own tight leather pants, pushing away the slight wave of disgust. Damn if he wasn't acting worse than Angelus. That thought made him frown, clearing his mind of how he might look. Willow liked what she saw. That's all that mattered.

"William Fairchilde?"

Spike heard the name, taking him to the past for a brief moment as he remembered the last time he had been addressed by that name. A small coastal town in France. Darla had still been with them. The poof had been unsouled. Drusilla had been on one of her tangents, the stars constantly speaking to her until she could barely do anything but sit and babble on the floor of the cottage. He could still remember the slight fear he had felt listening to his beautiful sire, not understanding her words but not liking them at all. He could also remember the love he had felt, would always feel, when he looked at her and the wonder that someone like him, that had done the things he had done, could even feel that elusive emotion. He closed his eyes briefly, his mind bringing the memory back in vivid color. A snapshot of the past. Drusilla's face streaked with bloody tears, her eyes wild and wide, looking around the room as she spoke to something she could only see. Darla barely giving them any notice, too intent on shagging to care about her great grandchilde. Angelus quiet, resisting Darla's efforts to unclothe him as his dark eyes had rested on his beautiful daughter. Spike remembered moving from his chair and going to Dru, holding her as she continued babbling, his bare chest growing wet from her bloody tears, not understanding anything she was saying but knowing that someday it all might make sense. To this day, he couldn't remember what her prophetic words had been, but he was certain that they must have come true. He'd quieted her down in the way that only he could, seeing the grudging respect in Angelus' eyes as he had stood with Drusilla, remembering with clarity that Angelus had always been jealous of him in that ability to calm Dru, her sire usually managing to make her more hysterical as her past blurred her present upon seeing his dark, handsome face. It was then that Drusilla would caress Spike's face, her fingers moving along his light brown hair, whispering that he was her fair childe, so pretty and light, opposing the darkness that always threatened to just completely take her over. He had to wonder who was battling her darkness now, if maybe she had succeeded in fighting her own battle in the years he had been away from her.

"Mr. Fairchilde?"

He shook his head, the back of his hand quickly wiping underneath his eyes before he straightened and looked coldly at the woman that had interrupted his trip down memory lane. "Yes?"

"You're up in five," she said, catching her breath as she saw the intensity in those beautiful blue eyes. She watched as the man smiled slightly, a smile that did something to her that none of the other men tonight had done.

"Thanks, pet," he said, turning away from her as he composed himself. Damn memories, you could never rid yourself of them no matter how hard you tried. Now, though, thinking of Willow with a slow smile, he had new memories to make that could push those other ones farther away.

He moved towards the stage, running his large hands over the tight leather. Damn constricting material. True, it was comfortable enough, but it squeezed places he'd probably rather not have squeezed when he was looking at his Willow. The silk was good though, her scent covering it with an effect that was both calming and frustrating. He looked at his fingernails, knowing she'd kill him when she noticed he'd painted a fresh coat of black polish over them. According to her, painted fingernails were not respectful enough for a charity auction. His lips curled into a wicked smile as he realized that they would probably be the most respectful thing at this silly auction.

********************

"Is it too late for me to register?" Willow asked, her green eyes moving to the table. It was gone.

"You can't bid," Anya said in a singsong voice as she watched Willow's face fall. Turning serious for a moment upon seeing her friend's obvious worry, she said, "Willow, hon, it's going to be fine. It's just some silly auction. Not like it's the rest of your life."

"If he loves you, he'll forgive you for not bidding," Buffy said, glancing at Riley and smiling. "Just as he'd forgive you for making him go through with it all."

"What if he doesn't?" Willow asked, sighing. "Love me that is."

"Geez, Wills. Can we have any more of the inferiority complex?" Xander asked, shaking his head as he looked at his oldest friend. "You're the smartest person that I know, but at times you're so damn stupid."

"Well, excuse me for not being Miss Confidence. I'm not really very good at having affairs with mysterious, charming handsome vampires," Willow said sharply, frowning at him.

"Willow, you're gorgeous," Xander said, rolling his eyes. "You're smart and funny and loyal and honest and you have that sarcastic edge that I'm sure Spike just adores. He'd have to be a complete idiotic moron not to love you. Oh wait, we are talking about Spike...."

"You're impossible," Willow said, laughing as she looked at him. She asked softly, "Do you really think he cares about me?"

"Baby, you're perfect for him," Xander said, smiling. "I may not like him, but he isn't stupid. He has to realize what he has been damn lucky enough to find. And I don't really seem him letting go once he's found it."

"Xander's right," Riley agreed with a nod. "Spike's not stupid. He'll forgive you for not winning him."

"See?" Buffy said, smiling at Willow. "Even the guys can see it. Why can't you?"

Willow shrugged, "I don't know. Seems too good to be true?"

Anya looked across the room as Willow spoke, seeing Mrs. Harris giving her a thumbs up sign. She caught Buffy's eyes, winking and nodding towards the stage. The slayer smiled, turning her head slightly and looking around the room. It was all set. She looked back at Willow and said, "You deserve too good to be true. Now hush. I think the auction is nearly over. That was number thirty-nine."

"I thought they only had about twenty-five," Willow mumbled.

"Guess we were wrong," Xander said with a shrug, smiling as he wondered if Buffy and Anya's plans for Spike would work out.

"And now, last but certainly not least," Mrs. Harris was saying with a good natured leer, "direct from our very own Sunnydale, by way of England, we have William Fairchilde."

The curtains moved to the side and Willow sat up straighter, her eyes widening slightly as she saw him for the first time, moving over the tight leather and up the silk shirt until she saw his eyes. She felt a wave of apprehension pass over her as he winked, his lips curling into a wicked smile she had become quite familiar with over the past couple of days, and he moved slowly into the light from the shadows.

********************

Spike caught Willow's eyes, seeing the desire and love mixed with the worry and fear. He winked at her before he stepped out from the shadows of the curtain and onto the stage. He blinked slightly at the bright lights, looking at the stage to collect himself. He knew from watching the other bachelors that he was to walk to the end of the runway thing, turn around, then walk back and stand by the curtain. After the walk, the bidding would start and he was supposed to make eyes at the women and be all flirty. Well, not this bloke. So far the highest bid had been only sixteen thousand. He could top that and would top that. Teach the slayer for interfering with his plans.

He moved slowly, his body graceful. His blue eyes caught Willow's, everything around them fading as he looked at her. This wasn't about charity or some silly auction or even a bet with the slayer. This was about them. He smiled slowly, his eyes moving over her heated face and down her neck, resting on the soft swell of her breasts pushing against the blue material of her dress. Silk again. He felt himself hardening slightly as he imagined getting her home after this auction and fucking her while she was still wearing that soft silk. His eyes flashed with desire, the smiling growing more intimate as he kept his eyes on her, knowing she understood what he was thinking about.

Willow shakily reached for her water, not able to move her eyes from his to look for the glass. She gulped as his glance moved over her, ripping the clothes from her frame until she had to touch her dress to make sure it was still there. She watched him walk, having seen him use the same pace during patrols when he was stalking some demon. This time, she was the one he was stalking. Only, he didn't plan on killing her. At least, not judging by the smile that was on his lips or the unspoken words in his eyes. She sighed softly, her hand forgetting the glass of water and moving to her throat, her finger moving under the scarf and brushing against his bite.

Buffy let out a slow breath as she looked from Willow to Spike, watching them both. The heat and desire between them was practically visible. Her hazel eyes made their way back to Spike, taking in the tight leather, widening slightly at the rather large bulge between his legs and then moving up the silk shirt. Damn, he was fine. And he only had eyes for Willow. Lucky girl, she thought with a small smile. Xander was right. Spike and Willow matched in some way that she didn't try to understand. She just accepted it. She glanced around, seeing that every woman in the room was watching him, some eyes moving to the pretty redhead that seemed to be the center of his universe then moving back to him. Anya was right too. Spike just had *it*, whatever *it* was.

Anya smiled a proud smile. She'd known this would be perfect. Spike was gorgeous, all restrained lust that threatened to snap free at anytime, that tight ass encased in black leather that also stretched over a rather nicely sized bulge that seemed to be growing slightly as he looked at Willow. That smile even caused her heart to beat just a tad faster and she knew better. She wondered what it was doing to all those other women, the ones that had tons of money to spend. She almost felt sorry for Willow, knowing that the other girl was going to have to endure hell by sitting quietly as other women bid on the man that was clearly hers. She sat back, looking forward to watching those fireworks.

Spike stopped near the end of the stage, directly in front of Willow's table. He wouldn't go any farther, not caring about those other women. He watched his Red take a drink of water, her breath hurried and her face flushed. He smiled, simply standing there as the annoying music continued to play. His left hand went to his waist, his thumb hooking into his belt. His right hand moved up to run through his short hair, his lips curling into a smile that was both sheepish and sexy. He looked tousled, much like a naughty guy caught doing something he shouldn't be doing. In the audience, several women openly sighed in admiration. He continued to ignore the music, carrying on his silent conversation with Willow. He saw a drop of water on the side of her mouth, his right hand moving to his own mouth. He wiped at an imaginary drop, sucking his finger into his mouth as his eyes blazed with promises of things to come. Several glasses were lifted around the room.

The other men had been loud and had openly flirted with everyone. This guy had all of their attention with his intense focus on one pretty redhead. Spike moved his finger from his mouth, running it over his lips as he watched Willow repeat the action, wiping the drop of water from her mouth. As he watched her pink tongue move over her finger, his nostrils flared slightly and he growled, knowing that much more and he'd jump from the stage and take her there on the table with the slayer and all of them watching. He turned swiftly, his body poetry in motion as he moved towards the back of the stage, his face taut with passion and desire, his eyes closed slightly as he calmed himself. He moved to his mark, turning again, eyes finding Willow's without hesitation. Raising his scarred brow, he practically purred as he spoke up loud enough for the almost silent room to hear him easily, "Let the bidding begin."

********************

As soon as Spike's husky words reached their ears, paddles were being raised faster than the auction caller could keep up with them. Willow's eyes narrowed as she heard them, refusing to break eye contact with Spike long enough to openly glare at who ever was bidding.

"Three thousand," Miriam called out, fanning herself with her paddle as she looked at the handsome, strapping Englishman.

"Six thousand," Carrie called out with a smile as she doubled the previous bid. She glanced at the table where Mrs. Harris' friends were sitting, seeing the redhead glance away from the handsome blonde long enough to shoot her a deathly glare before looking back at the stage. Golly, this was fun.

"Seven." "Eight." "Ten."

The bids began to run together as Willow ignored them. She licked her lips, her fingers clenched around her napkin as she heard so many female voices calling out bids. She sighed, knowing that she couldn't win him, knowing that he expected her too. She hadn't even registered and Buffy had confiscated the gold card before letting her leave the house. She could do nothing except sit there and listen to these women try to outbid each other.

"He's getting pretty high," Anya remarked casually, giggling as Willow glared at her.

"They don't know him very well, do they?" Buffy asked in amusement. "They'd be asking for ten thousand NOT to win him."

"I hope you two enjoy hell," Willow said sweetly, her eyes snapping.

Spike frowned when Willow didn't bid. His eyes looked at the table, noticing that there wasn't a number. Damn it. She hadn't even registered. He cursed softly, deciding that it had to be the slayer's influence. He'd counted on her being able to win him, of pushing her until she bid regardless of her guilt. Now, he was stuck. Some silly vapid wealthy bitch would win him. Killing the slayer wouldn't be good enough. Maybe a spot of torture before death. His eyes lit with that idea, almost hearing her weak screams. No, even torture wouldn't be enough. He could feel all of their eyes on him. Taking a risk by looking away from his Willow, he saw dozens upon dozens of hungry eyes practically eating him alive. Good grief, is this how women felt when men looked at them? These women were animals, despite their elegant dresses and fancy jewels.

He glanced back at Willow and saw her scowling at him. With a smile of satisfaction, he realized she was jealous. Silly little girl had felt all guilty and spilled the beans to her slutty slayer and now wasn't able to win him. Well, ha. Teach her to be all human and moralistic. She could have kept her pretty little mouth shut and won him by now. He heard a bid for sixteen thousand five hundred, knowing that he had now won the highest bid for the night no matter what it turned out to be. He glanced at the brunette that had given him that honor, winking at her and smiling a flirty smile. He didn't plan on going home with anyone but his Willow, but this whole bidding thing might be a spot of fun. And if it made Willow appreciate him even more, well, all the better.

********************

"Would it be temporary insanity if I murder the winner?" Willow mumbled, her fingers tapping on the table as Spike winked at that Carrie woman.

"Spike couldn't visit you in jail so why don't we try not to find out," Buffy suggested with a smile.

"Hell is too good for you, for either of you," Willow said, glaring at her two friends. "He's flirting with them now. Tasted the power and all that rot."

"He's trying to get to you and succeeding," Buffy said, rolling her eyes.

"You do notice that his eyes are still pretty much stationed on you despite the flirty smiles he's tossing around," Anya pointed out.

"He's not tossing me a flirty smile," Willow whined.

"Because you can't bid a horribly large amount of money on him and feed his ego," Buffy said, laughing as Willow hit her arm. "Ouch. You've been working out. That almost hurt."

"Is there anywhere worse than Hell?" Willow wondered out loud, cringing as Spike blew that Carrie chick a kiss after the stupid horrible woman bid nineteen thousand on him.

"Damn, he's near twenty-thousand," Xander said, shaking his head. "I just don't get it. Sure, he's got that leather thing going on, but come on. He looks like some big Q-tip."

"That fireman earlier was better looking," Riley remarked, quickly adding, "not that I was paying attention to their looks or anything."

"It's OK sweetie. I'll just remember to remind you about your hunky fireman anytime you decide to remind me that I mentioned finding Spike attractive," Buffy said with an innocent smile.

"Spike who?" Riley said, leaning over and kissing her softly before looking back at the stage. "I don't think its looks exactly. It's just, I mean, look at him. He has them eating out of his palm with a few raised eyebrows and sexy little smirks. I hate guys like that."

"Me too," Xander said crossly. "Just because he looks damn good in leather pants doesn't mean he's worth that much money."

"Quit being so jealous," Anya said, kissing Xander's cheek. "I'm sure you'd look just as good in leather."

"Ahem, excuse me," Willow waved her hand slightly, "This is supposed to be about me! I'm the one sitting here as the new love of my life is flirting with dozens of women that have more money than sense. Can we please remember that and stay on topic!"

"Which is?" Buffy asked, raising her eyebrow. "You moping around because he seems to forgive you for telling us and is still undressing you with his eyes and seems to want to be with you even after this stupid auction is over. I, for one, would think you'd be happy to learn that there is more to your relationship than just the auction."

"I am, but it doesn't mean I want some stupid bitch pawing all over him," Willow said, shooting daggers at Miriam as the older woman bid twenty-one thousand.

"Hmm....it seems to be down between Miriam and Carrie," Anya remarked, her eyes moving from both women to Spike to Willow.

Spike looked at Willow and saw her watching the two women that were now bouncing back and forth with bids. He smiled softly as he saw how tense she was. Poor little pet, worried that he'd actually agree to go out with whoever wins him. Silly girl still didn't realize that she owned him just as he owned her. As if he'd risk their new relationship just to fulfill some silly auction that he hadn't wanted to participate in in the first place. He saw the slayer look at him and he had to smile, giving her a look that let her know she may have got him, but that he had also gotten her. Twenty-two thousand five hundred was the last bid. Now, Miriam was tapping her paddle on the table.

"I don't want that Carrie woman to win," Willow said, spitting out the name.

"What does it matter?" Anya asked, knowing Willow would hate either woman if they won Spike.

"She's too young and too pretty and too not married," Willow muttered. "At least Miriam is old enough to be his grandmother. He wouldn't get any ideas with her."

"I don't think he'd get any ideas with either one," Buffy said dryly, "and Carrie is just as married as Miriam is."

"How can a married woman look at my Spike like that?" Willow asked, glaring as Miriam went one bid higher. "He's not a piece of meat. He's funny and smart and sexy and caring. Do they see that? Noooo...they see a pretty face and a nice ass."

"Willow, stop it," Buffy said, rolling her eyes. "No amount of whining is going to change the fact that you will not be winning him tonight. Some lucky girl is going to get that honor. Deal with it."

Carrie sighed. She was growing tired of bouncing back and forth with Miriam. She looked around, saw everyone watching the two of them. Smiling, she decided that it had been long enough. Clearly it was time to make the final move. She raised her paddle and said, "Thirty-three thousand," moving the bid up drastically.

Willow closed her eyes in defeat as Miriam grew thoughtful. She opened them, looking at Spike and seeing him watching her, his eyes moving over her face almost tenderly. Buffy was right. She should be thrilled that he seemed to not care that she wasn't bidding, that he did seem to care about her. She just hated losing him, even for one night. Maybe this Carrie chick's husband wouldn't want her to date such an attractive and younger man. Then, she wouldn't have to worry. Sighing, she realized she was grasping at straws.

"We have thirty-three thousand dollars from number 17," Mrs. Harris said, smiling at her old friend. "Going once.....going twice....."

Buffy heard Willow's breath catch, her hazel eyes looking from Spike to her friend. She caught Anya's eyes and winked, knowing that neither of their friends would forget tonight anytime soon. She listened to Mrs. Harris announce the bid and then make the final call. When she heard the words going twice, she knew it was time to make her move. Buffy smiled as she raised her left hand from her lap, the paddle rising high in the air as she calmly said, "Fifty-thousand dollars."

********************

"Fifty thousand dollars. Going once...going twice..." Mrs. Harris smiled and banged the gavel. "Sold to number 65."

"Buffy?" Willow whispered, her eyes wide as she looked at her friend's calm face.

Spike knew his mouth must be hanging open in surprise. Had the slayer actually bid fifty thousand dollars on him? He saw the blonde wink at him and smile before she looked at Willow and began talking. He slowly smiled, shaking his head as he realized the damn bitch had one-upped him. This time, he'd let it go.

"Thank you all for attending tonight's event. We don't have the exact totals but we do know that we have made over one hundred thousand dollars tonight," Mrs. Harris said. "Again, thank you all for attending and being so generous with your money. Have a good evening and we'll see you, and your purses, next time."

"Buffy, what the hell did you do?" Willow asked, looking at her other friends and seeing their knowing smiles.

"I won Spike," Buffy said innocently. "Why? What did you think I did?"

"Why? How? You don't have that kind of money," Willow sputtered, her face showing her surprise and shock over this turn of events.

"That's for me to know," Buffy said cryptically.

"Well, slayer, looks like you've got me," Spike said as he approached their table. He raised an eyebrow as he looked at the blonde and said primly, "Don't go and be expecting anything for that fifty thousand. I'm not that type of guy. At least, not with you."

"Spike, I would never expect anything from you nor would I want to have you," Buffy said, making a face. "Ew much?"

"Buffy, would you explain yourself before I pull out every single dyed hair from your pretty little head?" Willow threatened sweetly, not even noticing that Spike had stepped behind her chair, his hands resting on her shoulders.

"Don't do that. She'd be bald," Xander said with a smirk.

"Honey, I'd still love you even if you were bald," Riley said, patting Buffy's hand. He smiled as he added, "as long as you had plenty of hats."

"Willow, did you really think we'd let some woman win him from you?" Anya asked in an offended tone. "We're your friends, silly girl."

"You planned this?" Willow asked, glaring at Buffy. "You made me sit there for three hours and worry that some stupid bitch was going to take him away from me all along planning to win him for yourself?"

"Will, listen to me. I. Do. Not. Want. Him," Buffy said in a tone as if she were speaking to a child. "I couldn't let you bid on him though. Let him think he'd beaten us? I think not."

"Where the hell are you getting fifty thousand dollars?" Spike asked finally, realizing the slayer was smarter than she appeared, sometimes.

"That would be from us," a pleasant voice said in amusement.

"You!" Willow said, looking at Carrie then at Miriam. "You were both in on this?"

"Of course," Miriam said, smiling a motherly smile. "Your friend here explained it all to us. About the bet that got this handsome young man to compete and about the love you two found along the way. Why, it made me almost teary eyed. Reminded me of when I met my George back forty-five years ago. I couldn't not help her get you two together."

"Buffy can be very convincing, can't she?" Carrie asked with a smile at the redhead. "I am sorry that you had no idea what she planned. It must have been horrific seeing the man you love auctioned off like that."

"Um, well, yeah, it wasn't fun," Willow said, sighing. "I'm sorry for all the nasty thoughts I had about you both."

Carrie laughed, "Think nothing of it. I'd probably have drawn blood had I been in your shoes. I didn't mean to interrupt you all. I just wanted to give Buffy the check for my half of the donation. I promised my husband that I would be home by one a.m. and I fear I must leave soon if I plan on keeping that promise."

"Thank you both so much for the help," Buffy said, taking the check.

"Honey, when I heard what you were planning, I begged to take part," Miriam said with a laugh. "I always just hand over my check each year. This year, well, it was a lot of fun to bid."

"Well, you were very good at it," Xander said, having seen the woman bid on several bachelors.

"Oh my. Aren't you an adorable one?" Miriam said, looking at him with a gleam in her eyes. "I fear I must follow Carrie's example and get back to my George. Here is my check, dear. You two look so perfect together," she told Willow and Spike with a smile. "So young and in love. Good-bye."

"Xander's Mom got us in touch with Miriam and Carrie," Buffy explained to a confused Willow and Spike as Miriam left their group and headed towards the door.

"They make donations every year but never participate in the auction. They're both happily married and their husbands wouldn't approve of a date with a bachelor," Anya added.

"This year, they agreed to help us get back at you two for your devious plans and also to help you both realize what you've got," Buffy said with a smile. "It worked perfectly."

"Except that you won Spike. You've got go on the date," Willow pointed out, almost smiling as thought of how fun that particular date would not be.

"Nuh uh," Buffy shook her head. "I wouldn't date Blondie if someone threatened my life."

"Thanks," Spike said, smiling despite her words.

"You see, she talked Carrie and Miriam into giving her their combined bids to win Spike and for them to bid on him just to make you a bit jealous," Anya said, "but she won him for you."

"Number 65. Willow Rosenberg," Buffy said, pushing the number towards Willow. "And you thought you two were the crafty, sneaky ones."

"We've definitely been outsneaked," Willow remarked, smiling as she took the number.

"I can't believe I actually have something to thank the damn slayer for," Spike said, shaking his head in disgust.

"Why did you win him for me?" Willow has to ask, knowing Buffy couldn't be that pleased that she loved Spike.

"Because, silly, you're my best friend and, for some stupid reason, you love the obnoxious, arrogant, annoying, sarcastic, cynical, murdering, sadistic, evil bastard," Buffy said with a smile.

"A compliment from the slayer. Be still my heart," Spike said, accepting her description easily.

"You forgot handsome, charming, amusing, intelligent, and caring," Willow said with a smile. "You're the best friends that I could ever have. You do all realize that, don't you?"

"Of course we do," Xander said with a goofy smile.

"That doesn't mean that we don't owe you one," Spike warned as he helped Willow to her feet. He brushed his fingers across her cheek and smiled, "You look beautiful tonight."

"So do you," she whispered, moving her face against his hand.

"On that sickening note, I think it's time for us to leave," Xander said, helping Anya to her feet.

"But I want to see them kiss," Anya whined.

"I have a fear that we may soon be seeing enough of that to last us an eternity," Buffy said, sighing.

"Anyone up for a late dinner?" Riley asked, stretching as he stood.

"Food sounds great," Xander said, smiling.

"Guys?" Buffy said, laughing as Willow and Spike continued to just stand there. "I'll go pay your winning bid, Wills. By the time we finish with that, you two had better be out of your little trance and ready for some dinner."

"Can you believe she tricked us both?" Willow said softly, laughing as she watched her friends walk away. "That they all tricked us."

"I wasn't joking, pet. We do owe them," Spike said, winking. "I think I have the perfect way, but we'll discuss it later, maybe in the morning."

"You do know that this makes you one of us, don't you?" she asked, smiling.

"Me a scooby," he said in disgust, shuddering. "I think I may be ill."

"It isn't so bad," she said with a small smile as her hand brushed his hair back. "There are some fringe benefits."

"Like what?" he asked, leaning his head down.

"Like this," she answered, moving her lips against his.

********************

Willow snuggled closer to Spike, a smile on her pretty face, "I love you."

"I know," he said with a smile as he tightened his hold on her.

"Ahem," she cleared her throat, looking at him with a raised brow.

"How often must I tell you that I love you more than my unlife?" he asked with amusement in his tone.

"Until I get tired of hearing it," she said with a smile, "so probably never."

"I think I can handle that," he said, kissing her softly. He pulled his head up when he heard a familiar scream. Smiling, he said, "Sounds like Anya found another mud puddle."

"Poor dear," Willow said with an evil smile. It had been nearly five weeks since the auction. Buffy and the others had about stopped gloating about being the reason she and Spike had finally gotten together, even if they hadn't actually been responsible, they took the credit. Spike had moved into her room the night of the auction. In fact, they hadn't slept apart since their first time in the maze. She was happier than she had ever imagined being. Still couldn't believe that it was Spike of all people that made her so happy. She loved him so very much. Every day they learned more about each other, finding more to love. Of course, neither had forgotten the hell that had been the auction. And neither had forgotten their promise to repay Buffy and the gang for putting them through that. Hence, their current situation.

"Once more with feeling, luv," he said with a smile.

"I wonder if Buffy has found the river yet," Willow asked as she lazily drew circles on Spike's naked chest. "I made sure to ask Maurice for extra mud. Poor Buffy hates getting dirty."

"The spiders and bugs were a nice touch for Anya," Spike remarked, proud of his Willow for thinking of the idea of how to get back at both Buffy and Anya while seeming for it to not be their direct fault.

"I'm just glad Maurice agreed to go along with us," Willow said, smiling. "Of course, for the chance to create two separate mazes, well, I knew he'd jump at the chance."

"Personally, I thought he was going to faint when you suggested 'ruining' his masterpiece by adding bugs," Spike said, laughing as he remembered Maurice's reaction.

"I managed to convince him that they would add that realistic element," Willow said, "besides, I also asked him to be sure to put some nice romantic places for them all too."

Spike made a face, "Don't remind me that the damn slayer is probably shagging not a mile away from us."

"Just be glad that they have their own mazes and we have ours," Willow said, her hand moving lower. "I'd hate for them to stumble upon us during a moment like this."

Spike nodded, arching against her warm palm, "Considering we've barely been clothed since walking through the door, I think they probably would have been way ahead of us by now."

"I don't know....Anya strikes me as a voyeur," Willow said, her thumb brushing against the head of his cock.

He shuddered, both from her touch and from the mental image, "Stop talking, pet. We have all weekend to talk."

Willow smiled, moving to straddle him. She sucked in a breath as she slowly eased down onto him. "You're wrong."

"Bout what?" he asked, thrusting up into her tight warmth and watching as her head fell back, his bite beckoning to him.

She moved against him, trying to remember what she had been saying. How could he talk when they were doing this? She leaned over, her breasts pressing against his chest as she said, "We don't have all weekend."

"We don't?" he frowned, hissing as her fingernails dug into his skin deep enough to draw blood.

"Uh uh," she ran her tongue over his lips as they moved together, the sun high overhead, sweat trickling down her back, "we have an eternity."

He smiled at her words, his leg hooking hers as he flipped them, sending himself deeper inside, "You're right. I was wrong."

"I love you anyway," she said, smiling at him.

He moved his mouth along her face towards her ear and whispered, "I love you, Willow." She smiled as she caught his mouth, knowing that she would never tire of hearing him say those words.

THE END